Smyrna suffers 56-52 road loss to Caravel

BEAR — The ball seemingly bounced all over the court in the final 30 seconds.

It just didn’t bounce for Smyrna High to get a good shot off.

The Eagles suffered a 56-52 setback on the road at Caravel in a boys’ basketball contest Friday night. It was the first nonconference matchup of the year for Smyrna, which fell to 2-3.

Smyrna closed within one on a Olumuyiwa Salako layup. Caravel inbounded and Smyrna eventually fouled, setting up free throws with 19 seconds to go.

The front end of the one-and-one was missed but Caravel got the rebound after a battle in the paint. A putback attempt also missed and the ball bounced off several players before rolling out near Caravel’s bench.

Smyrna’s Nahshon Sylvester eventually grabbed it and turned upcourt but ran into a Caravel player. The ball again bounced loose and this time Caravel wound up with it.

The Buccaneers converted two free throws, then stole the ball as Smyrna looked for a three-pointer to tie the game. Caravel hit one of two more free throws after a foul and time ran out.

“I think it was just a mental thing,” said Smyrna coach Andrew Mears. “We just didn’t play our type of way. Credit to Caravel for that. Caravel has some experienced players that know how to handle a lot of situations and our guys are still trying to figure out those situations. We just got away from who we are.”

Caravel led 48-41 before an 8-0 run by Smyrna gave the Eagles the lead in the fourth quarter.

Ron Jackson buried a three-pointer from the corner to start the run. Brandon Smith then made a tough shot in the lane before Sylvester tied it at 48-48.

Sylvester gave Smyrna a lead at 49-48 on a free throw. But Caravel’s Kevin Keister responded with a go-ahead three to give the Buccaneers the lead for good.

“I like our fight,” Mears said. “That’s one characteristic about this group, they have a lot of fight in them. They know we’re never out of it. They don’t look at the scoreboard, they just keep playing our style of basketball. We did that for a few possessions, got it close but could never get over the hump.”

Sylvester paced Smyrna with a team-high 13 points. Izaiah Credle scored 12 points, Jackson added 10 and Smith chipped in six.

Caravel’s Jordan Nasuti’s was the game’s top scorer with 15 points. Brandon Sengphachanh followed with 12 and Keister scored nine.

Smyrna saw its two-game winning streak snapped. The Eagles are integrating numerous new players after losing a majority of its lineup who made the state championship game each of the last two seasons.

“All these early losses are helping,” Mears said. “Obviously you want a better record but the losses can help. We’ll see how it plays out.”

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