St. Thomas More stuns Dover, faces St. Georges at the Bob

DOVER — On paper, this was David vs. Goliath.

Dover High has 1,800 students, St. Thomas More has just 170.

The Senators have earned a lot of boys’ basketball state tournament victories over the years.

The Ravens just notched their first tourney victory two nights ago.

But, where it matters most — on the court — St. Thomas More was more than Dover’s equal on Friday night.

It was the No. 14 Ravens who made most of the big plays down the stretch as they fought off the third-seeded Senators, 59-55, in the second round of the DIAA state tournament.

As the final horn sounded, St. Thomas More’s student section broke out into a chant of ‘We’re going to the Bob, We’re going to the Bob. …’

And, sure enough, the Ravens (17-5) will be making the program’s first appearance in the state quarterfinals on Sunday at the Bob Carpenter Center. St. Thomas More will take on sixth-seeded St. Georges at 2 p.m. in Newark.

St. Thomas More’s girls’ team will be playing in the quarterfinals for the first time this afternoon.

“It feels so good,” said Ravens’ junior center Aaron Scott, who netted a team-high 21 points. “We made history at this school. Everyone doubted us and we proved them wrong — that’s what we came here to do.”

“We’re underdogs,” said junior forward Elias Revelle, who added 16 points. “Everybody thought we were going to lose to Dover.”

“I don’t think it’s sunk in yet,” said St. Thomas More coach Cheston Boyd, a Dover grad. “Right now, I don’t even know what’s next. I forgot to tell the boys what time practice is. I’m just so excited.

“This is playoff basketball. You can’t pick who you play. Little schools like us — 170 kids — we get a chance to come here and perform in a gym that’s the size of our school. It’s just amazing.”

In a game that was close throughout, the Ravens went ahead to stay when a three-point play from Scott gave them a 46-43 lead with 3:51 remaining. St. Thomas More eventually took its biggest lead of the night at 53-45 with 1:05 on the clock.

But the Henlopen Conference champion Senators (17-4), who had a 14-game winning streak snapped, kept battling.

Dover crept back within 55-53 when senior Jordan Allen (game-high 23 points) sank a pair of free throws with 26.8 seconds left. Scott and teammate Corey Gordon (10 points) answered with three foul shots, though, as the Ravens’ lead grew back to 58-53.

Finally, Alvin West (5-for-8 from the line) made the second of two foul shots with only 6.7 seconds remaining to seal the 59-55 victory. Jordan’s three-point shot rimmed out just before the buzzer as Gordon grabbed the rebound and St. Thomas More started celebrating.

Free throw-shooting was a huge part of the game. While the Ravens went 26-for-37 from the line, Dover finished just 11-for-24.

“It’s that simple — free throws, we didn’t block out. …” said Senators coach Stephen Wilson. “It was the little things. We knew what we had to do and we just didn’t do it.”

The Ravens’ final 10 points came from the foul line as they sank 10-of-14 free throws in the final two minutes.

Playing in front of a big crowd in Dover’s spacious gym, Boyd was happy with the way his players handled the pressure of a big game.

But Scott said losing some tough games to quality out-of-state competition during the season helped prepare the Ravens for this kind of game.

“We’ve learned from it,” he said. “Now we stay calm and get it out of our head. We’ve got a ‘next-play’ mentality. We came out here, knocked down our free throws in the clutch when we needed it, got the stops and that’s how you do it.

“They were more athletic than us, I’m not going to lie. But we played better team ball.”

On a roster that includes just one senior, St. Thomas More only has one player with state tourney experience — Revelle. The 6-foot-4 junior spent the last two seasons at Howard in Wilmington.

Revelle, though, and his teammates will get a chance to make even more history in Sunday’s quarterfinals.

“It means a lot for this school — the first time at the Bob,” he said. “I love doing this with my brothers.”

“Man, it’s going to be so fun,” said Scott. “I can’t wait.”

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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