Wesley men earn AEC tourney championship

DOVER — Only one person has scored more points in Wesley College men’s basketball history than Brian Cameron.

But the Wolverines’ standout senior guard would have traded all his records for a team title.

On Saturday, Cameron and Wesley finally earned the crown they have been chasing for the last four years, out-lasting Gynedd-Mercy, 91-88, to claim the Atlantic East Conference title.

The top-seeded Wolverines went up by as many 16 with 7:30 left before finally putting away the No. 2 Griffins (20-7). It was the program’s first conference title since 2009.

“Words can’t even describe it,” said Cameron, as he and his teammates celebrated on the court at Wentworth Gym.

“I’ve been working for four years with these seniors that we have. It’s a great group of guys. … It’s crazy, it’s just crazy. It’s unimaginable.”

“We knew we could do it,” said junior guard Greg Bloodsworth, the Smyrna High grad. “Our five seniors, I did this for them.”

But Wesley (18-9) was also playing for its coach, Dean Burrows. The fifth-year head coach missed his second-straight game while being hospitalized at ChristianaCare.

Burrows is being treated for the severe pancreatitis he’s been dealing with for the past couple years. Burrows’ staff, with Wesley women’s coach Jim Wearden acting as interim head coach, ran the team.

Burrows’ wife, Stefanie, and their four children watched Saturday’s game from behind the bench. Seven-year-old Trey Burrows climbed the ladder, got boosted up and cut down the last strand of net after the contest.

Burrows was able to watch the game online from his hospital room. He remembers talking to his five seniors — Cameron, Mychal Stefanides, Derick Charles, Terrence Braxton and Tolu Babalola — before the season about the potential for this moment.

“We felt all along we were the best team in the league,” Burrows said by phone. “This was a vision, if you want to call it that. It’s pretty cool to actually see it play out in front of your eyes. You don’t get to do this too often.”

“We went out there and played this one all for him,” said Cameron. “I can’t even imagine what it’s like for him right now, not being able to be here with his team. We went out there and got it done for him.”

The Wolverines hope they’ll still get to play another game with Burrows on the sideline this season.

As a second-year league, the AEC doesn’t have an automatic NCAA Division III tournament bid. But Wesley hopes to earn at-large berth — which would be the program’s fifth — when the NCAA playoff field was announced on Monday starting at 12:30 p.m.

There was no shortage of heroes for the Wolverines in Saturday’s victory. Cameron (30 points), Bloodsworth (24), Braxton (13) and Stefanides (12) all finished in double figures.

In a rivalry in which all three games this season were decided by three points, however, it wasn’t surprising that the tension of the title game lasted almost until the final horn.

After going into halftime with a 38-32 advantage, Wesley eventually built its lead to 77-61 on a Cameron jumper with 7:30 on the clock. The Griffins didn’t go away, though.

Gwynedd-Mercy cut the deficit down to nine with 3:38 still left and then to 84-79 with 54 seconds remaining and 88-84 with 15.7 seconds on the clock.

But, finally, Cameron sank three of four foul shots in the final 12 seconds to seal the win. The Griffins hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to account for the final score.

Cameron sank 11-of-14 foul shots in the game while the Wolverines went 24-of-36 as a team. With 781 points, Cameron has already broken his own school record for points in a season and is 29 points shy of the career mark.

“I love that moment,” Cameron said about taking late-game foul shots. “It’s just another free throw to me. There’s no pressure, it’s just another shot.”

“That’s a good team but we wanted it bad tonight,” said Bloodsworth, who was 5-of-8 from three-point range. “We needed it.

“We’ve been working for this all year. We’re ready for it (the NCAAs).”