Woodlin’s last-second jumper lifts Dover past Smyrna

DOVER — Terrence Woodlin hadn’t been able to buy a basket outside the paint all day.

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Dover’s Terrence Woodlin, shown earlier this season during the Senators’ first game against Smyrna, beat the Eagles Saturday with a last-second jumper. (Delaware State News file photo)

But with the clock scrambling toward zero, the Dover High senior got one last chance to redeem himself.

He buried it.

Woodlin’s 12-foot baseline jumper just before the final buzzer gave the Senators a memorable 48-47 win over Smyrna in a Henlopen Conference Northern Division boys’ basketball showdown on Saturday afternoon.

A moment later, the 6-foot-6 post player was being mobbed by his teammates on the court as they celebrated the improbable victory that kept them unbeaten in the North at 8-0 (11-3 overall).

Woodlin had pulled in a long rebound off a missed three-pointer and calmly swished the game-winner. The arcing jumper swished through the net as the horn sounded.

“I practice that shot every day after practice,” said Woodlin, who finished with 10 points but was 0-for-8 from the foul line. “Coach always tells us, weakside rebounds count the most.

“I didn’t know what to do — I was very excited,” he said about his reaction. “I had to help my team out. It’s a blessing. I wasn’t going to let that (foul shooting) bring me down. I had to just keep pushing hard. It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.”

“I’m happy for them to be able to jump around like that,” said Dover coach Stephen Wilson. “That’s what it’s all about.”

The victory, Dover’s second over the Eagles (6-3, 11-3) this season, moves the Senators one big step closer to claiming the program’s first North title since 2010. But now Dover has to play another big North game, at second-place Cape Henlopen (6-1, 8-6), on Tuesday night.

In a low-scoring contest that featured five ties and 11 lead changes, Smyrna made the Senators earn the victory.

The Eagles took their 47-46 advantage when sophomore Caleb Matthews (12 points) sank two of three foul shots with 34.6 seconds remaining. Dover missed a shot on its ensuing possession but got one last chance after Smyrna missed the front end of a one-and-one free throw situation with 16.4 seconds on the clock.

Wilson then called timeout with 9.4 seconds left before the final play unfolded.

“Right now we’re just in the mode of trying to win basketball games,” said Wilson. “We don’t know if we’re going to win by one or we’re going to win by 10. We just want to win. We figure the more wins we get, the closer we get to winning the division. That’s our goal right now.

“We want to be division champs because these guys have worked hard.”

While each squad led by as many as five points in Saturday’s game, no more than two points separated them at the end of any of the quarters.

Smyrna coach Andrew Mears, whose team lost to Dover 78-64 on Jan. 14, was proud of the way the Eagles competed. This was their third game in five days.

“I was just so impressed with how we handled ourselves this week,” said Mears. “We mustered up enough energy and effort to last with a tremendously-talented Dover team. I just loved the guys’ effort from start to finish.

“We just wanted to make sure that, at the end of the game, we had played our best basketball. If it’s a win then it’s a win. If it’s a loss then we’ll rebound. I think we played our best basketball.”

Besides Matthews, senior Ja’vier Worthy also finished with 12 points for Smyrna.

Jordan Allen had a game-high 14 points for Dover with Michael Douglas adding 11.

In some ways, the team that the Senators are chasing right now is the 2010 Dover squad. That team was the last Senator boys’ hoop team to win the North and ended up reaching the state finals.

This year’s Dover players regularly interact with the players from the ‘10 squad.

“They talk about, ‘What are you guys going to do to be remembered?’” said Wilson. “They’re really trying to get to that point where they can say, ‘We’re division champs, too.”

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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