Torrid start keys Smyrna boys in 84-69 win over Ravens

SMYRNA — The Smyrna High boys’ basketball team opened up Tuesday’s game wanting to be aggressive toward the rim on offense.

The relentless barrage for layups worked, as the Eagles scored the game’s first 16 points.

Smyrna led wire-to-wire in an 84-69 victory over Sussex Tech in a Henlopen Conference Northern Division contest. The Eagles are back to .500 with consecutive wins after dropping their first two games.

“We were attacking and putting the ball in the hoop,” said senior Ron Jackson. “Go to the rim every time and get results.”

Nahshon Sylvester paced Smyrna with a game-high 27 points. Quadir Hunter added 18 while Johnson chipped in 14 and Izaiah Credle was also in double figures with 10.

The point total was the highest for Smyrna in nearly a year — the most the Eagles have scored in a single game since they netted 86 against Howard at the 2017 Slam Dunk to the Beach event in late December.

They did it all on Tuesday missing one of their few returning players from a year ago, Jakir Hampton who was sidelined with an injury.

“Everybody stepped up,” Sylvester said. “I thought everybody played a very good game. I liked the performance and the hard work in practice to improve is showing.”

Devon Reynolds was Sussex Tech’s top scorer with 24 points.

Smyrna was on top 26-9 after the first quarter thanks to the 16-0 run to begin the game. Sussex Tech never got within six points the rest of the way.

“I was happy with how we shot the ball,” said Smyrna coach Andrew Mears. “We still have some things we need to talk about defensively. We’re a work in progress. We have some learning to do and the learning comes from playing games. Wins or losses, I welcome all of them because it’s giving us court time against a formidable opponent. Hopefully it will give us some experience that will pay off in the end.”

The Eagles led 44-30 at halftime as Jackson brought the crowd to its feet on a one-handed dunk in the final minute of the first half. He recorded a pair of blocks on the defensive end in the waning minutes.

The senior is like many on this roster who was a bench player the last two years and watched as the Eagles reached two state championship games. Now his role has increased.

“He’s getting a lot more minutes,” Mears said. “He’s a big part of who we are. So we’re going to ride on his shoulders and he’ll make some decisions for us. He did some good things.”

Sussex Tech again closed within single digits toward the end of the third quarter. Sylvester halted that run with a pull-up three at the buzzer to end the quarter.

After four consecutive Henlopen North games, the Eagles now have a stretch of five nonconference contests, starting with a visit to Caravel Friday night at 7:15 p.m.

“For us it’s big to get 2-2 in conference,” Mears said. “It’s a conference that is very balanced this year. There’s a chance we could be 1-3 or 4-0 right now if the ball bounces one way or the other. We got a lot of respect for the conference. We came into tonight focused and wanted to get back to 2-2.”

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