Smyrna rallies from 15 down to defeat CR 77-71 in overtime

CR’s Davione Robinson, left, battles Smyrna’s Jakir Hampton for a rebound in the second quarter. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

CAMDEN — The Smyrna High boys’ basketball team did not lead until the fourth quarter.

The Eagles also trailed by as much as 15 points.

Then they missed four shots on the final possession of regulation.

After all that, though, Smyrna still escaped Caesar Rodney High with a victory.

Smyrna’s Caleb Matthews drives to the basket against CR’s Timothy Spence in the first quarter. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

The Eagles used some strong defense and free throw shooting in overtime for a 77-71 win over the Riders in a Henlopen Conference Northern Division contest on Tuesday night. Smyrna remained unbeaten against Delaware opponents and improved to 7-1 overall (5-0) Henlopen North)

Jaymeir Garnett paced the Eagles with 24 points, including the go-ahead bucket in overtime when he corralled his own miss for a putback. Greg Bloodsworth followed with 22 while Caleb Matthews had 21.

Both players were perfect on free throw attempts in overtime. The Riders meanwhile scored on its first possession of overtime before Smyrna did not let up another point.

“It should have never been that close I think,” Bloodsowrth said. “We started out bad in the first half, bad defense I think. We had to come back in the second half and fight harder. … It was all about attitude and effort. I think that’s why we won.”

It was the first defeat of the year for Caesar Rodney who fell to 5-1 overall and 3-1 in the Henlopen North.

CR’s Dajuan Williams, right, battles Smyrna’s Jaymeir Garnett under the boards in the second quarter. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

The Riders were up by as much as 15 in the second quarter and led 38-28 at halftime.

“We felt like we should have won the game,” said CR coach Freeman Williams. “We talked about how we did some really good things but we also found some thing that we can fix. We have to make sure we take care of the ball down the stretch.”

Smyrna dug itself out of the early hole though and tied it on a basket by Bloodsworth with 3:15 left in the fourth quarter. The Eagles didn’t lead until Matthews buried a corner three for a 67-66 advantage, then Bloodsworth stripped a shot attempt on the defensive end which led to a layup by Nalik Veasley and a 69-66 lead with 1:40 to go.

“It was a tough fight,” Garnett said. “We were down most of the game. We had to slow the game down and play our tempo, that’s how we came out with the win.”

Tim Spense brought the Riders closer with a layup before Shaft Clark made a free throw to tie the game 69-69. Smyrna held for one shot on the final play of regulation but a jumper by Bloodsworth and three subsequent follow-up attempts all rimmed out.

The way the final possession and overtime summed up the game for Smyrna coach Andrew Mears.

CR’s Dajuan Williams drives the ball to the basket against Smyrna in the second quarter. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

“CR is the same every year with the Freeman Williams product,” Mears said. “They fight hard. We knew it was going to be a four-quarter game. It was a battle all the way through. CR is going to go full speed and hard all the time, I think our guys started off slow and started off soft. Once we got our footing we stepped up our level of play.”

Davione Robinson was Caesar Rodney’s top scorer with 22 points and Clark added 19.

“We’re disappointed that we lost but there’s definitely a lot of positives we can take away,” Williams said. “There’s some plays I wish we had back. We have to continue to work hard on the defensive end and continue to take care of the ball and that’s how we’ll have success. We’ll take the lessons we learned and build on those things.”

Reach staff writer Tim Mastro at tmastro@newszap.com

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