Local college notebook: Hornets struggled but showed positive signs late in hoop season

Eric Skeeters

Eric Skeeters’ first year as Delaware State’s men’s basketball coach is officially in the books.

As expected, the Hornets took their lumps. But there were signs of progress near the end of the season.

The season came to an end on Thursday with a loss to North Carolina Central in the quarterfinals of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournament. DelState finished 6-25 overall.

The Hornets finished last in the MEAC but upset No. 6 seed Savannah State in the first round of the conference tournament on Monday. It was the first time since 2015 Delaware State won a game at the MEAC tournament.

“I’m proud of my team, especially the seniors, for the growth we experienced this year,” Skeeters said. “We’ve come a long way since the beginning of the season, and I’ll always be grateful to my staff and players for their contributions to my first year as a head coach.”

It took Delaware State nine tries to beat a Division I team for the first time this year. That happened on Dec. 19, as the Hornets upset Delaware on the road, but 10 straight losses followed.

Delaware State won only two MEAC games in the regular season but ended strong with a tight loss to conference leader Norfolk State before the upset of Savannah State in the tournament.

The Hornets will graduate three key players in Saleik Edwards, Jon Mitchell and Sussex Tech product Kevin Larkin, who played just this season for the Hornets after transferring from Niagara as a grad transfer.

Larkin was honored with a spot on the All-MEAC third team.

“Thankful for Delaware State University, my teammates, my friends and family for all the support and most importantly my coach Eric Skeeters,” Larkin posted on his Twitter account. “He took me from a four ppg scorer and two rebounds a game guy, to 16 points and nine rebounds a game and turned me into an All-MEAC players. Thankful to be his first Delaware players and his first All-League player. We helped lay a foundation by winning a game in the postseason. The road to a ring for Delaware State is coming real soon and I’ll forever be a part of that.”

Hens open spring ball

The Delaware football team would like to think it made progress last fall by making the NCAA Division I FCS playoffs for the first time since 2010.

But the Blue Hens also lost a big senior class.

That makes spring practice, which Delaware started this week, especially important for the Hens. Delaware also has a new offensive coordinator in Jared Ambrose.

The Hens will practice Tuesdays (2:45 p.m.), Thursdays (2:45 p.m.), Saturdays (10:30 a.m.) and Sundays (10:30 a.m.) up until spring break and start up again on April 9 when students return from break.

The Blue-White Spring Game is slated for April 20 at 3:30 p.m.

“The best thing about this time of year for us … is we love being out here on the field,” head coach Danny Rocco was quoted on Bluehens.com. “We love being with our student athletes. I like to see the guys, how they’ve developed and what they’ve been able to retain.”

Notes

• Two Henlopen Conference alums qualified for the NCAA wrestling championships, taking place next weekend in Pittsburgh. Smyrna High product Brent Fleetwood (North Dakota State) finished second at the Big 12 Conference tournament to qualify. Ohio’s Zack Parker, a Caesar Rodney High grad, was fourth in the Mid-American tournament to qualify.

• Dover High grad Brianna Hand-Solomon, a senior on the Hood College swimming team, was named to the Middle Atlantic Conference Winter Sportsmanship Team. She also posted a career-best time of 25.13 seconds in the 50-yard freestyle MAC championships last month.

• Freshman Devaughn Williams (Dover) scored nine goals in two games for the Delaware Tech men’s lacrosse team last week. Sophomore goalie Nathan Carey (Lake Forest) recorded eight saves in a victory over the College of Southern Maryland.

• Milford product Megan Fry batted 10-for-14 with a triple, a home run, and 11 RBI in four games last week for the Delaware Tech softball team.

Tom Ott, a Cape Henlopen grad, won 10 matches this year for the Navy wrestling team.

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

Reach staff writer Tim Mastro at tmastro@newszap.com

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