Howard overpowers Sussex Tech to advance in girls tourney

WILMINGTON — The Howard girls’ basketball team was ready to make some history on Friday night.

And the Wildcats weren’t about to let Henlopen Conference champion Sussex Tech stop them.

Eighth-seeded pulled to a 63-39 victory over the No. 9 Ravens in the second round of the DIAA state tournament to earn the program’s first trip to the Carpenter Center.

“It’s very exciting, because this is the first time ever for this school, in our girls’ history, to go to ‘The Bob,’ ” said Howard coach Curtis Clack. “So, we’re definitely very excited about that. We’re trying to just keep going in the right direction.”

Senior center Kayla Rouse led the scoring for the Wildcats, dropping 21 points to go along with 18 points from junior guard/forward Ronnasia Blatch-Huggins. Junior guard Jaymail Hollis scored 10 points.

“I felt as though the girls really executed the game plan, they came down and they made it difficult for their bigs,” said Clack. “We were able to get it down in transition, made our lay-ups, made our free throws.”

The Ravens jumped ahead early 7-2, but an 11-0 run put Howard ahead 13-7 at the end of the opening quarter.

With just a 25-19 lead at the halftime break, the Wildcats used a 19-6 third quarter run to put the game out of reach heading into the fourth quarter.

“We went into halftime down six, and we felt pretty good about it considering how things went, and all season long we’ve been able to answer other team’s runs with runs of our own,” said Sussex Tech coach Justin Davis said.

“The second half, for whatever reason, we didn’t have it tonight. A large part of that is Howard, they’re a really good team. They have size, they have speed, they’re tough to defend and they’re tough to penetrate on.”

One of the keys to Howard’s success against Sussex Tech’s offensive attack was limiting the Ravens’ tallest player, junior Janiya Stevens, under the basket.

“That was definitely one of our biggest focal points, because I noticed that they like to go to her down low,” Clack said of his team’s defensive game plan. “So, I definitely wanted to try to pack it in and make the game difficult for her. We have a big just as big as her, so we just wanted to keep her in check as much as possible that way we’d be able to have our guards get out in transition.”

Stevens scored six points, with four of those six coming at the free throw line. Junior forward Mi’Cah Shelton led Sussex Tech in scoring, putting up 14 points in the tournament loss.

Howard will have its hands full Sunday as it takes on top-seeded Caravel in Sunday’s quarterfinals at the Carpenter Center. Tipoff is slated for 5:30 p.m.

“We’re going to try to put a decent game plan together tomorrow in order to get ready for ‘The Bob,’” Clack said.


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