Local college notebook: Wesley men eye conference title

DOVER — In one sense, Wesley College’s men’s basketball team is playing for a conference title today.

The first-place Wolverines (10-1 AEC, 16-8 overall) head to second-place Gwynedd-Mercy (9-2 AEC, 18-6) for a 3 p.m. showdown in their regular-season finale.

But, on the other hand, Wesley already has the top seed in the conference tournament wrapped up. That’s because it would win any tiebreakers if it loses this afternoon.

And that’s huge because the higher seed hosts games in next week’s Atlantic East Conference Tournament.

None of which means the Wolverines have any less motivation going into today’s matchup said coach Dean Burrows.

“Obviously, you want to win it outright,” he said. “You want to stay hot and you want to be playing your best ball. Our last two games haven’t been pretty by any means but we found different ways to win and be successful. That’s growth for us.”

Wesley hasn’t won a regular-season title since 2014, when it was in the Capital Athletic Conference.

The Wolverines beat Gwynedd-Mercy, 76-73, in Dover on Jan. 29. But they went 0-2 on the road against the Griffins last season, including a 101-84 loss in the AEC semifinals.

Unless a tiebreaker game needs to be played, the six-team AEC tourney will start on Monday night. Wesley will then host the lowest-remaining seed in Wednesday’s semifinals with the finals slated for next Saturday.

The second-year AEC doesn’t have an automatic NCAA Division III playoff berth yet but this year’s tournament champion is expected to earn an at-large NCAA berth.

The Wolverines go into the weekend having won six in a row and 11 of their last 12 games.

“You just want to go out and play as best as you can and see what happens,” said Burrows. “We try to bury the past, whether it’s good, bad or indifferent. Every day’s a new day, every day’s a new opportunity. We’ve got to go out and earn that opportunity and work for that day.

“We have so much more to achieve with this group. I’ve said it all year long, it’s been a real fun group to be around.”

20 and counting

On Thursday night the Delaware men’s basketball team accomplished something only seven other Blue Hen squads have done when it registered its 20th victory.

While UD didn’t even start regularly playing 20 games in a season until 1951 — teams now play 31 in the regular season — 20 victories is still the mark of a really good season.

“A lot of people were like, ‘Oh, you’re one win away from 20,’” fourth-year coach Martin Ingelsby said after the Hens beat Northeastern, 70-48, on Thursday night. “I’m like, ‘Yeah, I want to win 20 plus.’ But I do think it’s a nice little feather in your cap, in year four, to get to that number. That’s a testament to our group.”

With three regular-season games remaining, the third-place Hens (10-5 CAA, 20-8 overall) face a big challenge today when they host first-place Hofstra (12-3 CAA, 21-7) at 4 p.m. in their home finale.

Delaware knocked off the Pride, 73-71, on Jan. 23 on Long Island.

Catching Hofstra for the regular-season title would be difficult for the Hens. But getting as high a seed as possible for the upcoming CAA tournament is always important.

Second-place William & Mary (11-5) is just ahead of Delaware while Charleston and Towson are just behind at 9-6.

“It’s new territory for us a little bit,” said Ingelsby. “We have not talked to our team at all about where we are in the standings. I think those guys look at it and they kind of know. They know who’s coming in here on Saturday.

“But we can only control what we can control, and how we’re playing. There’ll be a time and place to talk about that — maybe as we head down to D.C. (for the CAA tourney). I think the good thing is we’re out of the play-in game now, I believe. It will be interesting to see how it all shakes out.”

Notes

• Milford High grad Octavion Wilson, who overcame two major illnesses to play receiver for Salisbury last fall, is working out withe the hopes of getting a chance with a pro football team.

“I feel in great shape,” he said. “I’m training like two times a day now. If I go five hours with out working out, I’m like, ‘Man I’ve got to go get on the treadmill.’ It’s either now or never, that’s what people are telling me. … I’m willing to do whatever it takes.”

• The Delaware State women’s basketball team is 7-4 in Mid-Eastern Athletic play so far but the Hornets are 1-4 against the top four teams. That one win was against Morgan State who the Hornets play again on Monday in Baltimore.

• Former Delaware quarterback/receiver Joe Walker has signed with Ottawa of the Canadian Football League. A full-time receiver as a senior with the Blue Hens, Walker has previously spent time with the Chicago Bears and the XFL’s Defenders.

• Dover High product Tevin Thomas won the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference Player of the Week award. Thomas, now at Goldey-Beacom batted .455 last week and drove in five runs.

• After three games, Delaware baseball standout Joseph Carpenter is 6-for-9 with three doubles.

• Delaware State’s baseball home opener is today with a doubleheader against Massachusetts starting at noon.