Smyrna tops CR, sets sights on North title

Photos special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh

CAMDEN — The Smyrna High boys’ basketball team was nudged a couple of times on Friday night, but the Eagles still maintained their strong grip on the Henlopen Conference Northern Division.

Caleb Matthews scored 18 points and the Eagles held off multiple rally attempts by Caesar Rodney High for a 60-47 win in a Henlopen North contest.
Smyrna remained in the driver’s seat for the Henlopen North regular season title, improving to 9-0 in the division and 13-2 overall.

“We get the best from everybody we play against us,” Matthews said. “They see us as one of the best teams in the state. It’s helping us because we realized you can’t take a night off. If you do, you can slip up and lose to anyone on any given night.”

Smyrna led the entire second half, but the Riders closed the gap to four points multiple times. The Eagles always had an answer, though, and closed the game with a 22-13 run.

“I loved our composure tonight,” said Eagles coach Andrew Mears. “That was a good test. Credit to our guys to keep composure, play our brand of basketball and I think that’s what stretched out lead at the end.”

The closest Caesar Rodney (6-4 Henlopen North, 10-5 overall) got was when it cut Smyrna’s lead to 38-34 on Joe Williams layup. Smyrna’s Jaymeir Garnett quickly pushed the advantage back to six points with a floater in the lane.

Anthony Watson followed with back-to-back three-pointers.

“I feel very confident in my shot and when I let it go it felt good,” Watson said.

Watson scored 11 points on just five shot attempts. He was perfect on all three of his three-point attempts.

“This whole year he has been very efficient and can be a very dangerous weapon,” Mears said. “We know what we’ve got in Anthony. He comes off the bench but he’s still a primary scorer for us. He definitely gives a lift when we need it.”

Garnett was also in double figures for Smyrna with 15 points.

Smyrna defeated the Riders 66-31 back on Dec. 15, but the Eagles knew the road matchup would be much more difficult considering CR entered Friday with eight victories in its last nine games.

“I knew it was going to be a tough game and we played hard from start to finish,” Matthews said. “We had to calm down there when it got around four points. We started to extend our lead until the end of the game. We played patient and it worked out.”

The Riders were only able to cut the deficit to single digits once in the final minutes on Davione Robinson’s layup to make it a 48-40 game. The Eagles converted 12 free throws in the final four minutes to keep the Riders at bay.

Jaquan Hooks paced CR with 15 points while Robinson added 11 points.

“We looked at tonight as an opportunity for us to see where we are,” said CR coach Freeman Williams. “So we had the game and we have a lot of lessons we can take away for practice. Credit to Smyrna, they played hard, they played well. Like I said, we just have a couple things to work on and get better at.”

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