Woodbridge girls roll to 67-8 win over ECHS@DSU in opener

Freshman Payton Keeler, shown here driving to the basket against an ECHS@DSU defender, scored eight of her 11 points in the first half. Delaware State News/Ben Heck

GREENWOOD — Emilio Perry knows the importance of having young talent prepared to play in big games down the stretch.

That’s probably why the Woodbridge High girls’ basketball coach had no problem starting a couple of his freshmen in the team’s season opener Thursday night, as the Blue Raiders rolled to a 67-8 home victory over Early College High School at Delaware State University.

It’s the lowest point total Woodbridge has allowed since earning a 70-7 win over Design Thinking Academy on Feb. 21, 2017.

Freshman Payton Keeler netted 11 points, while fellow freshmen De’Asya Jones and Iyanna Mims registered eight and three points, respectively, in their varsity debuts.

Guard Janeira Scott drives to the hoop on a Woodbridge fast break.

“I’m just tickled to death to see them jump out there and really own the situation, own the moment,” Perry said of the freshmen. “I know that they weren’t anticipating on even starting the game or playing as much as they did.”

After last year’s 20-win regular season campaign, the fourth-seeded Blue Raiders lost in the Henlopen Conference title game, 56-42, to Cape Henlopen High and then had their season ended in the quarterfinals of the DIAA state tournament with a 67-37 loss to Caravel Academy.

“I just know, from last year’s experience — even after going 20-0 in the regular season — we still ended up losing two important games that ultimately ended our season,” Perry said. “Having fresh legs, and having young talent coming up and prepared to play, I know it’s going to pay off down the stretch.”

Eight players scored at least three points for the Blue Raiders (1-0) in the Henlopen Conference Southern Division victory.

Cha’Kya Johnson, the leading scorer with 14 points, looks to get past a Hornet defender on her way to the hoop in Thursday’s win.

Junior Cha’Kya Johnson led the scoring with 14 points and was a force underneath the basket, while junior guard Janeira Scott and forward Jillian Baker netted nine points each.

Returners Mikayla Serpa (eight) and Sierra Smith (five) rounded out the Woodbridge scoring.

The Johnson and Scott duo were key pieces to last season’s success, and Perry is excited for even bigger things from them this year.

A senior, Baker missed her entire junior year due to an ACL injury and was excited to make her return to the court for the first time since 2017.

Jillian Baker passes the ball down court on a fast break after Woodbridge forces a turnover.

“It feels great to be back out there, especially since I didn’t play my junior year,” she said. “It’s great being out there, playing with my friends and making a change and a statement for Woodbridge in my senior year.”

“I think I’m more excited because of her leadership and just her will to impose it on the other young ladies – she’s a great mind, a very highly educated young lady,” said Perry. “Her family is great – she has great support – so having her back, in my mind, is definitely a piece we needed.”

Freshman guard Niacah Furlow registered five points for ECHS@DSU to lead the team in scoring, while sophomore guard Chanyha Wise added the other three for the Hornets (0-1).

Woodbridge netted the game’s first eight points, before a Farlow free throw at the 5:13 mark of the opening quarter broke up the shutout.

With 20 points in the first quarter and 25 in the second, the Blue Raiders jumped ahead 45-3 at the halftime break.

Keeler scored eight of her 11 points in the second quarter and netted one of just the two successful three-pointers in the team’s 17-point third quarter.

With a running clock in the fourth, Johnson closed out the win with three of the team’s five points over the last eight minutes.

“I’m really excited for this year,” said Baker. “We’re ready; we have the team to do it this year, we have the coaching staff, we have the whole package.”

“We’re just trying to take it game by game and work on our craft each day,” said Perry.

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