Smyrna falls to Sanford 64-54 at Slam Dunk to the Beach Tournament

Photos Special to the Delaware State News/Chuck Snyder

LEWES — Smyrna High’s second game at the Slam Dunk to the Beach Tournament followed a similar script to its first.

The Eagles started hot, but were hampered by a tough second quarter in a 64-54 defeat to Sanford School in the boys’ basketball tournament’s final day Thursday afternoon at Cape Henlopen High.

Smyrna ended the tournament with a pair of losses after carrying a 5-0 record into the holiday break. The Eagles fell 52-49 on Tuesday to Bishop McNamara (3-8) of Maryland in the first game of the three-day event after leading by eight at the end of the first quarter.

Sanford snapped a three-game losing streak and improved to 2-4.

“From a basketball performance perspective we ran into two very, very tough teams,” said Smyrna coach Andrew Mears. “Their records don’t indicate how good they are. Everyone around here knows how good Sanford is. I am pleased with our ability to compete with them but losses are disappointing. No doubt we’ll learn from this.”

Smyrna was up 9-2 on Sanford before the Warriors called timeout with 3:33 left in the first quarter.

Sanford ended the first half on a 28-14 run to take a 30-23 advantage into halftime despite shooting 21 percent from the floor in the first quarter. The Warriors pulled away in the second half thanks to freshman Jyare Davis, who netted 18 of his game-high 26 points in the second half. Davis also grabbed 12 rebounds to record a double-double.

Smyrna was paced by junior Caleb Matthews, who ended as the team’s top scorer with 15 points. Anthony Watson added 14 and D’ymere Richardson was also in double figures with 11 points.

But Sanford held Matthews to 1-of-6 from three-point range and Smyrna only shot 28 percent from three compared to 50 percent by Sanford. Stopping Matthews’ three-point shots were the main focus of Sanford’s defense, according to coach Stan Waterman.

“We really wanted to be conscious and aware of where Matthews was,” Waterman said. “We didn’t want him to get any clean looks. We wanted to contest all of his shots. All around I think it was a really good defensive effort.”

“They’ve got pieces,” Waterman added about Smyrna. “They got shooters, they got size and coach does a fantastic job with what he has. They’re one of the better teams in the state so we’re happy getting a win against them.”

The closest Smyrna got in the second half was 39-36 in the third quarter before Sanford scored the next nine points to go up by double digits.

Smyrna went on a run in the fourth quarter when Richardson buried a three then Smyrna stole the ball back on the next possession. Richardson finished a fast break with a layup to cut the gap to 49-41.

Smyrna thought it had forced another turnover the next time Sanford had the ball when the Warriors looked to have double dribbled. But the referees didn’t blow the whistle, the Eagles stopped playing defense and Davis nailed a wide open three in the corner.

That was the start of a 8-2 run by Sanford to reestablish control.

“This shows that details, research and a lot of other stuff goes into playing basketball,” Mears said. “We got a healthy dose of adversity this week, which is great, it will give us some things to work on and allow us to retool and refocus.”

“We have to find some ways to overcome situations we haven’t been in,” Mears added. “To Sanford’s credit, I know they’re young but they’re used to these types of arenas, these types of crowds and these types of moments. For us we got a piece of it and we have to learn from it.”

Free throws

Smyrna’s 7-foot center Zubi Nwankwo blocked five shots — all in the first quarter. Nwankwo finished with four points and seven rebounds. … Jaymeir Garnett was Smyrna’s leading rebounder with nine rebounds while Matthews dished out seven assists. … Neither team was whistled for a foul in the first quarter. Sanford only committed one team foul all the way until the 3:03 mark of the third quarter. … Sanford shot 6-of-9 from the floor in the fourth (66.7 percent).

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