Transfers Spencer, Lassiter play key roles for Senators

Dover’s John Lassiter appears to float to the basket for a shot Thursday night. Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh

NEWARK — John Lassiter had four fouls near the end of the third quarter.

And yet, Dover High coach Stephen Wilson decided to leave him in the game.

“He’s a senior captain,” Wilson said. “And we trust our seniors.”

That trust paid off as Lassiter scored six unanswered points in the final 56 seconds of the quarter to turn a one-point lead into a seven-point advantage.

When it came to playing defense to hold that lead, the Senators had the force inside it needed in junior Jyheim Spencer.

Spencer stuffed the stat-sheet with eight blocks, nine rebounds and four points in Dover’s 68-52 victory over Caravel in the DIAA boys’ basketball semifinals Thursday night.

The Senators’ Jyheim Spencer gets past Caravel’s Jordan Nasuti.

Both Spencer and Lassiter have been key additions to the Dover squad this year. Lassiter transferred from Caesar Rodney High for his final year while Spencer moved from Seaford High.

The two immediately got to work with their new Dover teammates. Now they’re playing for a state title Saturday at 1 p.m. against top-seeded Sanford.

“It’s unbelievable man, we worked so hard for this in the summer,” Lassiter said. “I love my team.”

“The whole offseason we were working out,” Spencer said. “We were out there pushing tires in the weight room, getting shots up. I knew that we were going to be able to make it because of the hard work that we put in.”

Lassiter normally starts for the Senators but came off the bench for the second game in a row as Wilson elected to go with two forwards instead of his usual four guards to counter Caravel’s height.

He was held scoreless in the first half but netted eight of his 12 points in the third quarter. It allowed Dover to overcome a 25-24 halftime deficit. The Senators trailed by as much as nine points in the second quarter.

Lassiter started his own personal 6-0 run when he grabbed a defensive rebound with 1:00 left in the third quarter. A few seconds later, he laid the ball in at the other end.

After a Caravel turnover, Lassiter finished another layup attempt. He capped the quarter with a pair of free throws.

“I was just locked in,” Lassiter said. “We were playing great defense. Yeah there was foul trouble, but we got the job done.”

“He gives us a lot of energy and picks it up on the defensive end for us,” said junior Eden Davis said. “He’s a major part of what we do.”

With junior starting guard Elijah Allen having an off shooting night, Dover needed the spark from Lassiter.

Allen only shot 2-of-15 from the floor and was 0-of-7 from three, but did go 17-of-17 from the free-throw line and ended with 21 points. Davis was Dover’s top scorer with 23 points.

Lassiter gave Dover 12 points, four rebounds and two assists.

“He can play the one, the two or the three,” Wilson said. “He’s 6-foot, but he plays like he’s 6-foot-3. He’s a big key to what we do. He’s unselfish. We got a lot guys who are unselfish and don’t mind the shots that Eden and Elijah take. They care more about the defensive end.”

Spencer spearheaded a Dover defensive effort that had 13 blocks as a team and forced 20 Caravel turnovers.

“That’s what he does,” Wilson said..

Eric White recorded three blocks while Wanya Wise added a pair.

Spencer also had three steals to go along with his eight blocks.

“I feel great,” Spencer said. “It was our defense that worked, we just had to keep pushing.”

Reach staff writer Tim Mastro at tmastro@newszap.com

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