Riders edge rival Senators in boys’ hoop opener

Photos Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh

CAMDEN — There was no such thing as easing into the boys’ basketball season for Caesar Rodney High and Dover High.

The two crosstown rivals opened the year with a game that came down to the final possession.

Senior Jaquan Hooks scored a game-high 19 points as the Riders made enough plays down the stretch to edge Dover 55-51 on Friday night in a Henlopen Conference Northern Division contest.

Hooks broke a 45-45 tie with a three-pointer with 4:15 left in the fourth quarter. He hit four free throw attempts over CR’s last four possessions to help seal it.

It’s the first time since February of 2014 Caesar Rodney has knocked off the Senators. The Riders struggled through back-to-back 8-12 seasons the last two years with young teams, but have developed into a senior-laden group this year.

“We’re playing way harder as a team,” Hooks said. “We’re playing for each other. It doesn’t matter who scores, we’re playing for each other. We got six seniors and got a lot of experience under our belt now. We’re just ready to work.”

Dover, the defending Henlopen North champion, is trying to replace six seniors from last season’s squad and debuted a completely new starting lineup. Despite trailing by 10 points at the end of the first quarter, the Senators battled back to take the lead in the second half.

“I told the guys there’s no consolation in losing but that’s a very good basketball team, a senior-laden group and we were in the game,” said Dover coach Stephen Wilson. “We had chances to win it but we just didn’t pull it out. But I like what I see. We’re a young club but I like our nucleus. We’ve got a lot of work to do and we have a lot to build upon.”

Dover pulled within 52-51 with a minute to go when freshman Eden Davis scored off a putback. Dover forced a pair of misses on the other end before eventually receiving possession off a jumpball.

But the Senators traveled while bringing the ball up the court, giving it right back to CR. Hooks made one of two free throw attempts, leaving Dover with a chance to tie or take the lead.

Dover missed a three-point attempt before CR’s Shaft Clark blocked a shot attempt off the ensuing rebound. Hooks grabbed the loose ball, was fouled and converted his final two free throws.

Senior Joe Williams also finished in double figures for Caesar Rodney with 12 points and junior Davione Robinson chipped in 11.

“We just believed in each other like we always do,” Williams said. “It was a great experience tonight. We stepped up to the plate and finished it.”

Dover fought back into the game with five threes in the second quarter. The Senators took their first lead of the night thanks to a three-pointer by Cameron Turner to go up 24-21 with 1:37 remaining in the first half.

But Hooks answered back with a buzzer-beating three at the end of the second quarter to tie the game at 29-29.

“It started going into halftime we went in with a lot of momentum,” Hooks said. “We said we weren’t losing. We just locked in together and won this as a team.”

Davis paced Dover with 16 points while senior Stefan Rush-Wilson netted 12.

This was one of those games CR had difficulties finishing a year or two ago. But with the six seniors, the Riders were able to close things out down the stretch.

“We have experience now,” said CR coach Freeman Williams. “Last year we played a lot of guys through their mistakes. Starting this offseason, everyone knew what we wanted to work on and what we wanted to do. We’re so much further along with things.”

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