Late free throws lift Cape boys over Milford

MILFORD — Cape Henlopen High hit its free throws when it mattered most in Tuesday night’s 76-64 boys’ basketball win over Milford High.

As a team, the Vikings (3-1) went 17-for-20 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter alone to pull away from the Bucs (3-2) on the road at Milford Central Academy.

“When we get to the free throw line, as a good shooting team that we are we’re going to convert on free throws,” explained Cape coach Stephen Re. “You give us 15-footers with no defense on us, we’re going to make a lot of them.”

The Vikings finished the game with 28 free throws on 40 attempts.

“One of our strengths is shooting the ball, and they sped us up so much – they don’t want to play half court with us, they want to try to make it complete chaos,” Re said.

“When we talked about breaking their pressure, we talked about being strong with the basketball and then breaking the pressure to score it and eventually their fouls are just going to pile up.”

Cape junior Shi’Kai Chandler recorded a game-high 21 points, with all 21 coming in the second half. Junior guard Kristoffer Rushin added 20 points, going 12-for-14 from the line.

“I started out rough, but then the second half came, and I got more comfortable with the environment and my shots started falling and I started getting to the basket more,” said Chandler.

After struggling with his shot early in the game, Chandler decided to drive and get to the basket more often rather than relying on his shot.

“When I’m not shooting very well, I know I can attack the basket and score,” he said. “That’s what I tried to do.”

“It was a breakout game for him,” Re said. “Nobody practices harder than Shi’Kai. He was in attack mode today, we got him in space and he’s a finisher for us and made some plays.”

Chandler missed his three free throw attempts in the first half, but knocked down nine of his 11 attempts in the second half. He knew how important it was to hit those late free throws.

“I was struggling at first, but then my shot started falling and then everybody started shooting free throws and it came up big.”

Cape’s defense had a strong start to the first quarter, forcing turnovers and errant passes from the Milford offense.

“That was key, our team defense in the first half was terrific,” said Re.

The Vikings jumped out to an early 14-10 lead through the eight minutes behind six first-quarter points from sophomore forward Ethan Pires. Pires finished the game with 14 points.

Rushin scored nine of his 20 points in the second quarter, leading Cape to a 28-23 advantage at the halftime break.

Cape built up a double-digit lead less than two minutes into the second half and held onto its lead until the Bucs slowly began to mount a comeback midway through the fourth quarter.

Trailing by 12 points, Milford senior Daniel Shockley made a lay-up with 4:43 to play and his teammate Terrell Gibbs knocked down a three-pointer while drawing a shooting foul just 22 seconds later.

The senior Gibbs knocked down the and-one free throw to bring the score to within six points, 60-54.

A quick turnover led to a lay-up from Milford senior Tyron Mifflin just seconds later, while Shockley knocked down one of two free throw attempts at the 3:55 mark to bring the Bucs to within one possession, 60-57.

Re used a timeout at the 3:46 mark to calm his team down following Milford’s 9-0 run.

“We called a timeout and all we talked about was we were not executing for the last two minutes and that’s why they’re back in the game.”

Things turned around for the Vikings following the timeout as Cape put together a 9-0 run of its own to put the game out of reach.

Cape made seven of eight free throw attempts in the last two minutes to wrap up the 12-point win.

Gibbs, Shockley and Nick Sivels each finished with double digit point totals for Milford, recording 17, 16 and 14 points, respectively.

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