Capital celebration: Senators set to paint downtown Dover blue-and-white Saturday

By Mike Finney
Posted 3/25/24

DOVER — Stephen Wilson showed up at a celebration at The Boulevard Live restaurant on Friday night with the trophy from Dover High School’s first boys basketball championship grasped …

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Capital celebration: Senators set to paint downtown Dover blue-and-white Saturday


DOVER — Stephen Wilson showed up at a celebration at The Boulevard Live restaurant on Friday night with the trophy from Dover High School’s first boys’ basketball championship grasped firmly in his hand.

The state title hardware has hardly left the Dover coach’s grip ever since his Senators rallied for a memorable 56-53 victory over Salesianum in the DIAA state title game at the Bob Carpenter Center on March 9.

Coach Wilson and his Senators have a couple more memorable celebrations on tap before that elusive trophy — Dover had lost the championship game in five previous attempts — becomes a permanent member of the school’s trophy collection.

Perhaps the biggest celebration yet will take place when Dover hosts a parade down Loockerman Street on Saturday at 10 a.m., not only for the boys’ team, but also for the championship winning unified team, the girl’s Henlopen Conference winning team, and varsity cheerleading squad, which also recently won a big competition.

The four winning Senator squads were also recognized with certificates of congratulations by Mayor Robin Christiansen and Dover City Council prior to Monday night’s meeting.

Suddenly, blue-and-white is fashionable once again. As they say in the Senator hallways, “D-High … you know!”

Mike Bowden, who graduated from DHS in 2000 and played basketball and football, said there is a buzz around town that has been a long time coming.

“It’s real big. It’s bringing this community together,” Mr. Bowden said. “There’s been a lot of negativity that’s been shown in the news, so to see some positivity and great things come through, and for these kids to do it, I just want to celebrate them.

“I want to give them the opportunity to know that they’re loved, they’re supported, and to let them know to not just be a champion today, but be a champion in life.”

Even Coach Wilson admits he is getting a little tired, but he wouldn’t trade this feeling for anything.

“They made history. They bought in to what we were selling,” said Coach Wilson. “I’m just really happy for my coaches to celebrate and the players get to celebrate, and I can just sit back and watch a little bit, because they worked hard since March after we lost to Seaford.

“They got with our assistant coaches and came up with a plan and executed the plan. I’m a little tired, but I’ll take this any day. It’s worth it.”

As for the players, they’ve become instant capital city celebrities, and a permanent fixture in Senators’ athletic lore.

Dorell Little Jr., who was named State Player of the Year in boys’ basketball by Gatorade last Thursday, helped lead the Senators to a 23-2 record and their first DIAA state championship.

The senior is enjoying all the accolades the team is receiving. They have also been invited to join the State Senate on a date to be determined.

“It’s going to feel good because a lot of people who might not have ever seen us will be celebrating us,” said Little, a 6-foot-5 guard who collected 31 points and nine rebounds in the state championship.

“It brought everybody together (at Dover High School). Everybody is excited for us. We’ll go down in history, for sure.”

Denim Perkins, also a senior, combined with Little to score 47 of Dover’s 56 points against Salesianum as they won despite leading for a total of just three minutes and 49 seconds.

“Going into the season I knew we had a chance,” Perkins said. “We just came together and make it happen.

“The young (players) really played a big part, they came together, they bought in. Usually, there’s always one or two that don’t usually buy in and listen, but they were sure to listen and stayed on it.”

Jahi Davenport might have been the Dover girls’ basketball coach but he said he and his team kept an eye on what the boys’ team was up to.

“Just getting a little notoriety back to the girls’ program and, of course, also being a part of the boys’ program — being kind of parallel with that journey since I played ball until I graduated back in 1998 — and also being able to assist with Coach Wilson, it’s just been a great year for basketball at Dover High,” Coach Davenport said. “We just needed it.

“You just always envision as a child and as a player and, realistically as a coach, these kind of days — you want them, you pray for them — and to actually see it come to fruition is a beautiful thing.”

Probably the biggest fans of this year’s Senator state championship basketball team are all the players that came through the gymnasium before them.

Neko Stratton, a 1987 graduate of Dover, said the parade will exorcise a lot of demons.

“There are a lot of people talking about it and a lot of people trying to come out (to Saturday’s parade), so I think it’s important for the city, as well, and the community to show some positive light,” Mr. Stratton said.

“We’ve gotten there so many times — so close — but now that we’ve done it, Dover’s behind us, and we appreciate it.”

Mr. Bowden said it is a championship that echoes all the way from the site of the old high school off Pat Lynn Drive to its current home off Forrest Avenue in West Dover.

“I was in their shoes once and I was unable to do what they were able to do, and for them to make history and bring a championship home it means a lot for anyone who actually walked those halls at Dover High,” he said.

“We’ve been to ‘The Bob’ a lot of times but just were never able to get over that hump.”

This year’s Senators defied the odds and managed to get over the proverbial ‘hump,’ bringing with them a piece of history, the admiration of a community, and the creation of priceless memories that will last a lifetime.

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