Matthews scores 24 as Smyrna tops St. Georges 71-60

Caleb Matthews of Smyrna drives through heavy traffic to sink a short jumper in the first half of game with St. Georges. Special To The Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh

SMYRNA — Caleb Matthews saw his first three three-point attempts fall through the hoop.

So the Smyrna High senior kept shooting and the rest of the Eagles followed suit.

Matthews was one of four Eagles in double figures with a game-high 24 points as Smyrna defeated St. Georges 71-60 at home on Wednesday night.

SmyrnaÕs Jameir Garnett puts back a first quarter rebound in game with St. Georges Wednesday night.. Special To The Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh

The nonconference contest was a rematch of last year’s state tournament semifinal, which Smyrna won on its way to its first ever state title.

Smyrna improved to 17-2 on the season and won its ninth game in a row. The Eagles have one more regular season contest left with a trip to William Penn on Tuesday night.

Greg Bloodsworth and Nahshon Syvlester contributed 13 points apiece in the Smyrna victory. Nalik Veasley finished with 10 points while Jaymeir Garnett added eight.

“It comes down to them being unselfish,” said Smyrna coach Andrew Mears. “You can have all the weapons, but if they don’t move the basketball, things will get stuck. Our guys do a good job of being patient and moving the ball around. It also helps that they enjoy seeing others score.”

Matthews sparked an 19-7 first quarter for the Eagles by knocking down his first three three-pointers and finished five-of-seven on three-pointers. Matthews also hit four threes against Polytech one day prior.

Gregory Bloodsworth of Smyrna manages to get off a shot despite effort of St. GeorgeÕs Joe Rinarelli to block in the first half. Special To The Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh

“It helped my confidence,” Matthews said. “Last couple of games I was thinking about it way too much instead of just going out there and shooting like I usually do. I knew tonight I could just go let it fly.”

St. Georges cut the deficit to 46-41 after the first possession of the fourth quarter before Smyrna answered with a three-pointer by Matthews.

The Eagles used an 11-2 run to pull ahead. They scored on five-straight possessions, mixing up layups from Veasley and Bloodsworth with some free throws by Matthews.

“We play the same offense but we have so many different weapons,” Matthews said. “We’re a tough team to defend with two great bigs and some tough guards. There’s a lot you have to match up with.”

Nah’Shon Hyland paced St. Georges with 23 points. Hyland has had a couple of 50-point games this season so Smyrna focused most of its defensive attention on him.

“I think we executed pretty well,” Matthews said. “We’ve been working on this gameplan for a couple of days now. We knew it was going to be a tough task, they have one of the best offensive players in the state. But we came out here and executed well.”

Considering only Matthews and Garnett played for Smyrna in last year’s semifinal game, Mears said it was important for the newcomers to play in this type of game with the state tournament approaching.

“This had a quarterfinals type of feel to it,” Mears said. “They travel well and we had a good crowd that wanted to see good basketball. This will benefit us as we start our tournament run.”

“These are the teams you’ll see in the final eight or final four or the championship,” Matthews said. “It definitely helps you, seeing them now.”

Reach staff writer Tim Mastro at tmastro@newszap.com

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