Raven boys rout Bucs 80-60 in tournament opener

Sussex Tech’s Ricky Kane tries for two points over Milford’s Tyron Mifflin. Special to the Delaware State News/Chuck Snyder

GEORGETOWN — Just a few days ago Ricky Kane had trouble lifting his arm above his shoulders.

That didn’t stop the Sussex Tech High junior from slamming down a one-handed dunk during a fast break in the second half of Tuesday night’s 80-60 win over Milford High in the first round of the DIAA boys’ basketball state tournament.

“It was real exciting,” Kane said. “I just saw the lane, I took it and went up and the rim was there, so I just dunked the ball.”

After suffering an injury in the Ravens’ Feb. 12 game against Caesar Rodney High, Kane sat out the team’s last regular season game before returning to the court Tuesday night.

“I just started lifting it two days ago,” Kane said of the injury. “I couldn’t shoot at all.”

The rim-rattling fourth quarter dunk, which quickly led to the Sussex Tech student section starting a “Ricky Kane” chant, accounted for two of his 15 points on the night.

Sussex Tech’s Skylar Johnson (2) drives past Milford’s Nicolas Sivels (1) and Jaxson Turner (3).

The ninth-seeded Ravens move on to Thursday night’s second round against No. 8 Salesianum. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.

The win in front of a sold-out home crowd, which marks the first time Tech has faced Milford since Feb. 7, 2013, extended the team’s win streak to seven games, dating to Jan. 26.

“It’s huge to be able to have that sixth man and to have your fans behind you, especially in this type of environment,” said Tech coach Damon Ayers. “It’s good to see the fans out supporting our kids. Our student base was excited once they found out we were in the tournament.”

Junior Devon Reynolds put up a game-high 28 points, with Skylar Johnson scoring 18 to go with Kane’s 15.

Reynolds knocked down four of Tech’s five three-pointers, while Kane drained eight of his 14 shots from the free throw line.

“We came out with a lot of energy and we were just knocking shots down,” said Reynolds. “We wanted to come out with a lot of intensity and momentum, and that’s what we did.”

Sussex Tech wasted little time getting things started on offense, piecing together a 7-0 run and forcing an early Milford timeout just 1:40 into the game.

“We came out strong. Coach was just on us about being disciplined, staying active on defense and it helped us,” Kane said.

From there, Tech turned its 7-0 run into a 19-4 advantage after Kane knocked down his lone three-pointer of the evening at the 2:43 mark of the opening quarter.

The Ravens’ Devon Reynolds shoots over the Bucs’ Brock Hilligoss.

The Ravens capitalized from early mistakes and missed shots by the Buccaneers, out-running Milford’s transition defense on fast breaks.

“The game plan was pretty much to get out to a good start and really control the tempo of the game,” said Ayers. “We wanted to make sure we had some energy and intensity because we knew they’re a pretty good team. It was huge to get out on a good start.”

The Bucs went on a 9-4 run to end the first quarter, including five unanswered points from Milford senior Daniel Shockley in the final 1:10, to pull to within 23-13.

The Ravens built up an 18-point lead, jumping ahead 34-16 at the 4:17 mark of the second quarter, but the Bucs once again clawed its way back in it late in the quarter.

The Ravens scored just five points, one of them being a Reynolds three-pointer at the buzzer, in the final 4:03 of the half while Milford went on a 15-5 run to pull to within 39-31 at the halftime break.

“We constantly emphasis to our guys that it’s a game of runs. We felt that they took one of our best shots early on and then we were able to take their best shot and be able to withstand it,” said Ayers. “It was huge for us to be able to weather the storm.”

The Bucs pulled to within six points, making it a 48-42 ball game following a three-pointer from senior Brock Hilligoss at the 3:18 mark of the third quarter.

The Ravens’ Caleb Reid (21) and the Bucs’ Jaxon Turner (3) fight for the ball.

That’s as close as Milford came to completing the comeback attempt, as Tech went on an 8-2 run to end the third quarter and out-scored the Bucs 24-16 in the fourth quarter to pull away for the team’s fourth 80-plus point game of the season.

Shockley scored a team-high 19 points for the Bucs, with Terrell Gibbs and Nick Sivels adding 10 and eight points, respectively.

In total, Kane has missed 15 games this season. The guard missed the first 14 games while recovering from an injury suffered in the fall, but has averaged 13.0 points in his six games this year.

Ayers is happy to have him back out on the court.

“He brings so much to the table,” Ayers said. “He’s a guy who’s able to pass, he can dribble, and he can score with the best of them. Also, he knows how to get his teammates involved, so he’s the missing piece we’ve been missing all year long.”

When the Ravens take the court against Salesianum on the road in the second round Thursday, it’ll be just 12 days since the Ravens defeated Sallies, 54-53, in the team’s Feb. 16 season finale.

“We saw Sallies last Saturday and we’re just going to come out and compete,” said Ayers. “We need to come out and compete at a high level. The good thing about it is we were able to beat them without Ricky, so having Ricky on the floor this go around we like our chances.”

“We’re going up there, it’s going to be tough,” said Skylar Johnson. “If we play like we did the first time they came to us, we’re going to win. We’re just going to play hard like we did, lock down No. 15 (Rasheen Caulk) and don’t let [Jack Brown] go off and we’re straight.”

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