Senators take first lead with 40 seconds left, rally to top Eagles 76-69

Dover’s Elijah Allen shoots against Smyrna’s Nahshon Sylvester in the first quarter during Friday night’s Henlopen North boys basketball showdown at Smyrna. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

SMYRNA — The deficit hovered around seven points for most of the night.

It was high as 14 points one time, and low as a point another.

But as long as there’s time left on the clock, the Dover High basketball team does not go away.

“I never count our team out.” said Dover coach Stephen Wilson. “We may be down but I never think we’re out of a basketball game because we play defense and we got guards and big guys who can finish around the bucket. You got to be able to handle what we’re doing for 32 minutes.”

Elijah Allen’s pull-up jumper with 40 seconds left sparked Dover to a 76-69 victory at Smyrna High in a Henlopen Conference Northern Division showdown on Friday night. Dover remained unbeaten against instate competition and improved to 10-0 in the Henlopen North (13-1 overall).

The Senators did not lead all night until Allen’s go-ahead bucket. They out-scored Smyrna 12-2 in the final 2:30 of the contest and 26-14 in the fourth quarter.

Dover is now two games up on Smyrna (7-2 North, 10-3 overall) for the Henlopen North lead with four conference games remaining.

Dover’s Eden Davis shoots against Smyrna’s Elijah Credle in the first quarter at Smyrna.

“Coach preaches every day, we’re Dover and we’re going to get everyone’s best shot when we step on the court,” Allen said. “We stick together as a team and our brotherhood keeps us together.”

Allen’s game-high 27 points led the Senators.

None were more important than his jumper with 40 seconds to go. Smyrna had missed the front end of a one-and-one opportunity and the rebound was passed to Allen, who rushed up the court, fought off contact and was able to square himself near the foul-line to knock down a bucket to make it 69-68 Dover.

Jy’Heim Spencer swatted away a Smyrna layup attempt on the other end and Dover’s Caesar Gilbert snagged the rebound. Gilbert went one-of-two at the line with 32 seconds left and Spencer grabbed the offensive board on the second free throw attempt.

Spencer was able to pass to Allen who drained a pair of free throws. Layups by Wanya Wise and Dymear Yelverton sealed it, letting the Senators take a sigh of relief.

“It’s a conference game, that’s how it goes,” Wilson said. “It’s their Super Bowl if they beat us. Give them credit, they played a good game. But it’s four quarters to the game and I told these guys there’s runs, we got the last run. Yeah there’s things we got to work on, but at the end of the day it’s another ‘W’ in the book.”

Late comebacks have been a theme for Dover lately.

The Senators overcame a 16-point deficit against highly-regarded Cardinal O’Hara of Pennsylvania last Saturday. Not only did they rally for the win that night, they won by six points.

Dover did it with its defense on Friday. Smyrna was up 65-57 but then only made two field goals in its final 20 attempts and Dover forced five turnovers down the stretch.

“We made some adjustments and moved our press back a little bit,” Wilson said. “We were able to get the ball out of certain people’s hands and not let them get into their stall.”

Eden Davis contributed 17 points for the Senators and Jaheim Harrell netted nine points, all from three-pointers.

Smyrna was led by Nahshon Sylvester’s 19 points. Brandon Smith added 15 while Elijah Credle and Elisha Gregory chipped in 11 points apiece.