Williams paces Caesar Rodney to high-scoring opening win

Caesar Rodney’s Brycen Williams drives against Polytech’s Kyle Gamber in the first quarter during the season opener at Polytech on Tuesday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

Like most coaches, Frank Victory wasn’t sure what to expect from his players on opening night.

There was an especially-long pre-season this winter and his Caesar Rodney High boys’ basketball team had several players manning new roles.

But the Riders hit the ground running, rolling to a 95-67 victory over Polytech in a Henlopen North matchup as the pandemic-delayed season got underway on Tuesday evening.

It marked just the second time since at least 2007 that CR has scored over 90 points in a contest and matches the 95 points it put up in a DIAA state tournament win over Laurel last March.

Polytech’s Kyle Gamber, left, Caesar Rodney’s Deontre Cale, center, and Trey Voshell look for a rebound in the second quarter during the season opener at Polytech on Tuesday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

“We know we can score the basketball,” said Victory, who is starting his second season as CR’s head coach. “Our kids can shoot the ball really well. (But) we didn’t know exactly what this was going to look like because it’s our first game and we didn’t have any scrimmages.

“There’s still a lot of things we need to improve on. Defensively, I don’t think we did a very good job tonight. But we will clean that up.”

Senior guard Brycen Williams led the way with 24 points, including 17 in the first half. Williams, who sank four three-pointers, has moved to shooting guard this season.

“It was more getting him off the ball so he can get more open looks,” said Victory. “He has a lot of freedom in our offense. He has a high basketball IQ, to be able to put himself in positions to be able to score.”

Junior Trey Voshell added 11 points as nine different CR players scored at least five points. The Riders hit 11 three-pointers.

With everyone in the gym wearing masks and only one spectator per Polytech player and coach permitted to attend, the Riders never trailed. They jumped out to first-quarter leads of 19-5 and 28-12.

CR’s advantage was 48-31 by halftime and 71-50 going into the fourth quarter.

Victory was happy that so many players got to contribute in the Riders’ first game.

“My mindset tonight was that I wanted to play all 13 guys, because they’ve been working for the last six weeks without knowing whether we were going to have a season or not,” he said.

But the Panthers, whose 11-player roster includes seven sophomores and a freshman, made several scoring runs of their own.

In the second quarter, Polytech cut CR’s lead to only 38-29 before the Riders ended the half on a 10-2 run. The Panthers also whittled the Riders’ advantage down to 11 points a couple times in the third quarter.

Sophomore Kyle Gamber matched Williams with 24 points with Kamron Wilkerson (14), Samuel Slater (10) and Xavier Brewington (10) also finishing in double figures. Slater is the only senior on the Panthers’ roster.

Polytech made eight threes in the contest.

“They never gave up, they kept working, they played hard,” Victory said about Polytech. “They really pushed us and made us uncomfortable in certain situations. They’re going to be a team that plays all the way through. They’re undersized but they found a way to be able to score and pressure us.”

Victory knows CR will have to play better when it hosts Dover on Friday at 7 p.m. The Riders have lost four in a row to the two-time defending North champion Senators, who have a number of new players this season..

“We know Dover is still going to be loaded,” said Victory. “We need to be prepared. It’s a rivalry whether there’s 2,000 people in the gym or 11 people. It doesn’t matter. We need to play our best because they’re going to bring their best.”