Watson’s threes rally Smyrna boys past Cape Henlopen 54-43

LEWES — At halftime, Anthony Watson focused on shooting from one specific spot on the floor.

The Smyrna High senior warmed up with only three-point shots from the corner. With how Cape Henlopen was defending the Eagles, Watson knew that shot would be open.

In the fourth quarter, that extra bit of practice paid off.

Watson nailed a pair of threes from the corner to help lead a Smyrna rally to defeat the Vikings 54-43 in a boys’ basketball Henlopen Conference Northern Division contest on Friday night.

“They were leaving me open and my confidence is really high in my shot,” Watson said. “I work on it every single day. I knew it was going to fall at some point.”

Smyrna (5-0, Henlopen North, 7-2 overall) trailed 37-35 going into the fourth quarter but ended the game on a 19-6 run.

Watson score the go-ahead bucket when he drained a three from the left corner on the second possession of the fourth quarter to put Smyrna on top 39-37. Watson then forced a steal on the defensive end which led to a breakway layup by D’ymere Richardson.

Watson buried another three-pointer from the right corner on the next possession. He finished with 11 points for Smyrna, nine of which came in the second half.

“Anthony is a great shooter for us,” said Smyrna coach Andrew Mears. “On any other team, he could be a No. 1 option because he can shoot the ball so well. For us, we ask him to try to stay patient and allow the game to come to him. He did that and you can see that confidence build.”

It was the third time in the last 11 days Smyrna played a game at Cape Henlopen. The previous two were both losses at the Slam Dunk to the Beach Tournament over Christmas Break.

“We had to redeem ourselves after those two losses we took at Slam Dunk,” Watson said. “It was very important for us to win this game.”

“I didn’t even have to say anything to motivate them to get a win down here,” Mears said. “We really enjoyed the experience at Slam Dunk but we were hungry for a win down here.”

Cape Henlopen (4-1 Henlopen North, 4-4 overall) cut Smryna’s lead to three points later in the fourth, but the Eagles hit all six of their free throw attempts and Jaymeir Garnett scored on a putback to stretch the advantage to double figures.

Zubi Nwankwo ended the night as Smyrna’s leading scorer with 12 points. Watson followed with 11 and Caleb Matthews added 10 points.

Garnett chipped in eight while Richardson scored seven.

“Balance is important,” Mears said. “We want to trust each other and that’s been a big focus for us. Our balanced scoring is a testament to how much we trusted each other and how well we played as a team.”

Cape Henlopen devoted most of its defensive energy to face-guarding Matthews on the perimeter, Smyrna’s top scorer on the season. The strategy had Cape up by as much as eight points in the first half.

But Watson was able to shoot the Eagles into the lead.

“Cape had a great gameplan against us,” Mears said. “It’s something we prepare for in practice but we haven’t seen a lot of game time against us. They put us on our heels a little bit. But we settled in and strung together a few good possessions.”

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