Riders fall to Appo 79-58 in boys tourney quarterfinals

The Riders’ Jaelin Joyner hangs on the rim after a dunk against Appoquinimink on Saturday night in Middletown. Special to the Delaware State News/Butch Comegys

MIDDLETOWN — Caesar Rodney High had hung around for one half of basketball.

The Riders began to make their run early in the third quarter, closing within two points of Appoquinimink High.

But the fifth-seeded Jaguars had a response. And their run lasted the rest of the game.

Appoquinimink pulled away down the stretch to defeat Caesar Rodney 79-58 in the quarterfinals of the DIAA boys’ basketball state tournament at Appoquinimink on Saturday. The Riders, seeded 13th in the tournament, end their season with a 13-8 record.

It is the first time in school history Appoquinimink has reached the state semifinals. The Jaguars will face top seed and defending champion Sanford on Thursday at the University of Delaware’s Bob Carpenter Center in Newark.

CR’s Kamal Marvel attempts an off-balance shot near the basket while covered by Appoquinimink’s Eseroghene Efekodio.

Caesar Rodney only trailed 43-41 after a Jaelin Joyner layup two minutes into the third quarter. The Jaguars reeled off a 10-2 run to end the quarter.

They didn’t stop there, out-scoring the Riders 27-15 in the fourth quarter.

“We just couldn’t answer their run,” said first-year CR coach Frank Victory.

“Their size was a problem for us and they shot the lights out,” Victory added. “ To their credit, they had a hard time missing. And when they did miss, they went and got the rebound like a hungry dog.”

It was the second trip to the quarterfinals in as many seasons for the Riders. They got here after knocking off No. 4 seed Laurel on the road on Thursday.

After the game, Victory spoke about how thankful he was for his seniors — Kamal Marvel, Syed Myles, Monroe Hite, Brandon Hatch, Benjamin Dawson, Elijah Booker and Braxton Robinson — for making the transition to a new coach seamless.

“I walked into a situation with seven quality seniors who don’t know anything but having success,” Victory said. “These guys will go on to do great things. They left their imprint on this program. I can’t be more proud of the team we put on the floor. They worked their tails off all season long. That’s why it hurts because they do that for me every day.”

Caesar Rodney’s Brandon Hatch reacts toward an official after a play at the basket against Appoquinimink. Hatch did not get the call he was hoping for.

The Riders came up empty on their final eight possessions of the third quarter which helped lead to Appoquinimink’s run. The Jaguars had a stretch of nine possessions in the fourth quarter where they netted at least one point.

Syed Myles paced the Riders with 17 points. Kamal Marvel followed with 12.

“I think with a new coach, losing a lot from last season that this team exceeded everybody’s expectations, not ours because we knew we were going to be great,” Victory said. “But for the community, it was a fun ride to be a part of this.”