Senators rip CR 92-76 for 2nd straight Henlopen North title

Dover’s Elijah Allen, who scored a game-high 31 points, shoots against Caesar Rodney’s Braxton Robinson in the first quarter. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

DOVER — Dover High has nothing against the rest of the Henlopen Northern Division.

But the Senators’ boys’ basketball team wasn’t interested in sharing this year’s North title with anyone.

So Dover went out and claimed its second-straight North crown by pulling away to a 92-76 victory over Caesar Rodney before a sellout crowd on the Riders’ home court Friday night.

The Senators (13-1 North, 17-2 overall) left themselves with the possibility of sharing the division championship with second-place Smyrna after having its 26-game North winning streak snapped by Sussex Tech on Tuesday night.

While Dover would still have represented the North in the Henlopen Conference championship game because it beat Smyrna twice, the Senators didn’t like the sound of ‘co-champions.’

“Coach (Stephen Wilson) told us yesterday at practice, he was like ‘I don’t want to share it,’” said senior guard Elijah Allen, who netted a game-high 31 points. “‘What’s the point in sharing it? Why not just win it for ourselves?’”

“Knowing as much hard work as we put in, we didn’t want to share it,” said Wilson. “We knew we put ourselves in a bad situation after Tuesday night. We knew we were playing in the conference championship game but didn’t want to ‘back door’ in there. We were going to try to do it the right way like we’ve been trying to do it for the last four years.”

Caesar Rodney’s Kamal Marvel shoots between Dover’s Dymear Yelverton and Jy’Heim Spencer in the second quarter at CR.

Not surprisingly, though, CR (9-5 North, 12-7 overall) wasn’t going to concede anything to Dover on Friday night.

In a matchup played with the intensity of a state tournament contest, the Riders grabbed an early 11-7 lead when Kamal Marvel buried a three-pointer. After withstanding a 10-0 Senator run, CR took its biggest lead of the night — 25-19 — on a three-point play from Marvel with 6:55 remaining in the second quarter.

Dover, though, has made a habit of turning up its defense and scoring points in bunches. This time, the Senators ended the second quarter on a 16-4 run to take the lead for good.

A three-pointer from Eden Davis (13 points) with 24 seconds left in the half left Dover with a 39-31 advantage.

“Basketball is a game of runs,” said Allen. “Coach gave us a game plan, he said ‘Pick up the defense.’

“We practice five quarters, we don’t practice four. We give it 110 percent not just 100.”

“That team has a great ability to make runs,” CR coach Frank Victory said about Dover. “And if you don’t limit the runs, they kind of give you that knockout punch.

“I was proud of the way we played tonight, we were battle-tested. But I think they kind of wore us down in the end.”

The Riders hung in the game through the third quarter, whittling the Senators’ lead down to just one point a couple different times. Dover led 59-54 going into the fourth quarter.

CR’s Monroe Hite shoots against Dover’s Jy’Heim Spencer in the second quarter.

Finally, though, the Senators got their advantage up to 66-56 with 6:34 remaining and CR never cut the lead under nine points the rest of the way. The 16-point final margin matched the Senators’ biggest lead of the game.

Besides Allen, who also had eight rebounds and five assists, senior center Jy’Heim Spencer had a big game with 20 points, 17 rebounds and five assists.

Syed Myles tallied a team-high 23 points for CR with Marvel adding 19. The Riders sank seven three-pointers but only three after the first quarter.

It was a tough week for the Riders. On Tuesday they lost a heart-breaking one-point game to Smyrna on a shot at the buzzer.

Victory, though, thinks that playing in these tough games are good experiences to have going into the DIAA state tournament. CR closes the regular season next Thursday with a non-conference game at Concord.

“That can be disheartening, especially at this point in the season, when you’ve got a couple losses coupled together,” said Victory. “But we’ve got to be able to find a way to regroup. And I think we will, because I know the character of those boys in the locker room.”

Dover also finishes it regular season next Thursday when it hosts Delcastle. The Senators will then try to capture their second-straight Henlopen title before heading to the state tournament.

Reaching their first goal, winning the North, felt pretty good, however. Allen said he and his teammates didn’t let the Sussex Tech loss get them down.

“It woke us up,” he said. “It shouldn’t have taken that for us to wake up but we had two good days of practice which led to the ‘W’ today.”