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Vikings turn on the energy, stun unbeaten Smyrna 47-46

Cape Gazette of Lewes, Delaware

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Down 10, Cape goes on 22-5 run, then hangs on

Down 10 points early in the second quarter and staring down the barrel of a five-game losing streak at unbeaten Smyrna Jan. 8, the Cape Henlopen boys' basketball team had a simple choice to make: The Vikings could wake up and save their season or continue their listless, uninspired play and get run out of the gym. They chose the first option, roaring back for an epic 47-46 victory keyed by relentless, physical team defense and 17 points from sophomore forward Ian Robertson.

The situation looked bleak early on, as the Vikings missed nine of 10 shots and committed seven turnovers in their ugliest quarter of the season. After Smyrna opened the second period with a lay-in to take a 15-5 lead, Cape head coach Steve Re called timeout and didn't pull any punches in his frustration.

"He was yelling... because we weren't really fighting hard," Robertson said. "He said that he was just going to sub us all out and that we weren't going to play anymore if we kept it up. That really got us going."

The Vikings responded with a furious 13-0 run fueled by four Eagles turnovers. After Robertson started the comeback with a drive to the bucket, Randy Rickards snagged a rebound and drove coast-to-coast for a deuce. The sophomore forward then converted a Rasheed Woods steal into a ferocious two-handed dunk in transition to bring the Cape faithful to their feet. Another Smyrna miscue led to a banked-in three-pointer by junior guard Jerry Harden, then Robertson stole the ball and found Woods on the break. The junior guard's lay-in - his first points of the season - gave Cape its first lead of the game, 16-15, with 3:30 left in the half.

"I just didn't want to lose anymore," Rickards said of his integral role in the run. "Coach is on me every day to play harder, so I just had to go for it."

Cape continued its onslaught by hitting two of four free throws before Jaymeir Garnett stopped the bleeding for Smyrna with a three-point play to tie the score at 18. Harden answered with a circus scoop shot, and Robertson drained a three from the top of the key to give the Vikings a 23-20 halftime edge.

Baskets from Rickards and Robertson extended the lead to seven early in the third before Smyrna closed to within a point from leading scorer Javier Worthy. The quick senior guard missed his first seven shots and was held scoreless for the first 18 minutes of action, but he tallied 20 points from then on to keep Smyrna in contention. The teams stayed close for the remainder of the third, but another straightaway Robertson three gave Cape a 34-31 lead entering the final frame.

The Eagles fought back to take a 36-35 advantage on Worthy's three-point play with 5:20 remaining, but Robertson immediately reclaimed the Cape momentum by clanging home his third three-pointer of the night. After Worthy knotted the score at 38 with two free throws, Drew Mulcahy found Rickards underneath for a basket and Demetrius Price banked in a runner to give the Vikings a four-point edge with 2:34 left. Price dove to the floor to grab a loose ball on the ensuing Smyrna possession, and Woods popped in a fearless three from the right wing to make it 45-38 at the 1:23 mark. Woods, who was 0-for-2 from three-point land entering the game, had little doubt about his gutsy shot.

"I was pretty confident," Woods said. "Coach Re and coach [Tommy] Rushin always tell me to be confident in my shot. I knew I was going to make it."

Smyrna crept within three thanks to a few drives from Worthy and a Charlie Taylor pull-up, but Robertson calmly sank two free throws to make it 47-42 with 27 ticks left. Worthy drove for two easy lay-ins over the next 20 seconds, and Cape led 47-46 with four seconds on the clock. Robertson was fouled and returned to the line for a one-and-one. His first shot misfired long and caromed to Smyrna's Dymer'e Richardson, whose 70-foot heave was blocked by Robertson at the buzzer to preserve the Cape win.

Worthy led all scorers with 20 points, but shot just 8-for-25 from the floor, going 0-for-9 from distance.

Robertson stuffed the stat sheet with 17 points, five rebounds, two assists, two steals and three blocks. He was efficient from the floor, hitting six of 11 field goals and thee of his six three-point attempts, and has connected on seven of 15 threes in his last three games.

"Ian hit some huge shots," Re said of Robertson. "He was terrific tonight. He played well on both ends of the floor."

Rickards added 10 points, nine boards and a pair of blocks for Cape (5-5, 4-1 Henlopen North), which snapped a four-game losing streak. Harden tallied seven critical points off the bench, while Woods enjoyed a breakout game with six points, four rebounds and three assists. Both junior guards logged career highs of 24 minutes off the pine for Re, who employed an unorthodox lineup of Price, Woods, Harden, Robertson and Rickards for much of the game. Re was thrilled with his team's energy and unity.

"When we compete with the right energy and play together, we can do anything," he said. "Our schedule is so hard that I knew it was going to take this team a little bit of time to get it together, but we got it done tonight. This is a huge step forward. To get out of here with a win at Smyrna - they're very well-coached and this is a tough gym to play in. This is a big deal."



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Original Publication Date: January 12, 2016



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