Young Riders set sights on North girls’ hoop crown

CR girls' basketball-Alissa Haith by .

At an average of 16.7 points per game, junior Alissa Haith has been Caesar Rodney’s most consistent scorer. She’s finished in double figures in all but two of the Riders’ 13 games while netting as many as 34 in a win over Smyrna. (Delaware State News file photo)

CAMDEN — Bill Victory always believed in his players’ potential.

But he wondered if his Caesar Rodney High girls’ basketball team was just too young to win the Henlopen Conference Northern Division title this season.

“I felt like, when I talked to the staff, we were going to have to try to steal one this year,” said Victory.

Young or not, more than halfway through the season, the Riders are indeed in position to claim the North crown.

At 6-1 in the North, 10-3 overall, CR owns a one-game lead over defending champion Sussex Central (5-1) and a two-game advantage over Dover (4-3) in the division.

20dsn Dover vs CR Girls BBall 007 by .

Bill Victory

The Riders, who will end a 10-day layoff when they host Cape Henlopen (3-3, 6-4) on Friday at 7:15 p.m., are pleasantly surprised to be where they are.

“I feel like we’ve come out better than I thought we would because we are such a young team,” said Jordan Moseley, one of only three seniors on the roster. “But when we had (preseason) workouts, I felt like we had good chemistry.”

“We were very young and I didn’t know if we were going to be able to develop by the end of this year,” said sophomore Alexis Reid. “But I think we’ve done very well. I think we play as a team now.

“You can see the team chemistry now. We’re not selfish. It’s a team thing with us.”

CR has only lost to two teams — Dover and St. Elizabeth, twice. The Riders, though, won their second meeting with the Senators and went from losing to the Vikings by 15 points to only six the second time they met.

They currently own a five-game winning streak.

At one point this season, CR was starting three sophomores, a junior and a senior.

“I thought we were pretty talented, but I didn’t know how it would come together,” said Victory. “We kind of worked at it. We’ve gotten better. We’ve been tested.

“Playing up North against A.I., and Howard and St. E’s, Hodgson, that has really made us a different animal,”

At an average of 16.7 points per game, junior Alissa Haith has been CR’s most consistent scorer. She’s finished in double figures in all but two of the Riders’ 13 games while netting as many as 34 in a win over Smyrna.

But CR has four other players who have tallied at least three double-digit scoring games: sophomore Zoe Scott (8.0 points per game), Reid (7.6), sophomore Brionna Brooks (7.6) and Moseley (6.6).

It certainly hasn’t all been easy for the Riders, however.

They’ve lost a pair of starters to injuries — junior Victoria Sebastian and Scott. The 6-foot Scott had 20 points, 15 rebounds and five blocked shots in her last game.

Victory has told his players that nobody is going to feel sorry for CR just because they’re a little short-handed, though. The Riders have made some schematic changes, plugged in some new players and will go on.

“We have just been very resilient,” said Victory. “I think we’ve progressed.

“We’ve climbed these stairs so we can climb the rest of them. Those have prepared us. But each game we have to do something a little different because we don’t have the tools we had before. We’ve got to make the tools that we have fit to the job that we’ve got to do. I think the kids have bought into that and they believe in each other.”

Moseley said she tries to use losing the two starters as motivation.

“I play for them,” she said. “I try to do my best for them.

“We just have to keep pushing on the gas, keep pushing ourselves — individually and as a team. We have to pick each other up and play hard as a team.”

“We miss them and it’s a lot of work to pick up,” said Reid.

“I think we definitely have to keep our heads straight and not let the wins get to us,” she said. “We have to work on the little things.”

With five North games still ahead of them, the Riders have a lot of work to do. But they also know the North crown is within their reach.
Victory hopes that motivates his players to work even harder.

“We’ve done the work to steal it,” he said. “It’s kind of sitting in our hands right now. A couple more wins in the right places … and we’re going to be sitting in the conference championship game. For our young group, that’s really good.”

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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