DOVER — This one was a grind from start to finish.
Caesar Rodney and Dover High were called for more fouls than the number of baskets they made.
But coach Stephen Wilson will take the Senators’ hard-earned 60-52 boys’ basketball victory over the rival Riders on Tuesday night just the same.
The way he looks at it, if Dover (3-0 Henlopen North, 3-2 overall) can win even when it’s scuffling, that’s not a bad thing.
“It’s easy to coach when you’re winning by 20,” said Wilson. “The hard part is when you’re down, what are you going to do?
“I think that our staff and the kids believed in what we did. They just focused.”
The win was the Senators’ third straight over CR (0-2 North, 0-3). But Dover trailed by eight points at halftime and didn’t take its first lead of the second half until there was just 6:59 remaining.
In a foul-marred contest played before a big crowd at Dover, the Senators began the third quarter with three starters saddled with three fouls and the other two with two fouls apiece. One of the players with three fouls was standout senior Jordan Allen.
Allen survived until the end, finishing with a team-high 14 points. But four of his teammates fouled out before it was over.
“You’ve just got to continue to play the game,” said Allen, who had nine second-half points. “We just had to go hard on the defensive end — everybody as a team. We focused and listened.”
CR went into halftime with a 32-24 lead after a steal and layup by Nhaighere Wills just before the buzzer. The Riders, though, were outscored 36-20 in the second half.
After committing just six first-half turnovers, CR had 15 in the second half.
Once the Senators got the lead, they hung onto it at the free throw line. Dover tallied its final eight points on foul shots, going 8-for-14 in the last two minutes.
For the game, Dover sank 26-of-38 free throws. CR was 21-for-34 as both teams made 14 field goals in the contest.
What Wilson liked is that, with the Senators’ starters in foul trouble, Dover’s reserves made some big contributions. Eight players netted at least two points in the game.
Besides Allen, Steven Justice had 13 — including nine of the Senators’ first 11 points in the game — while Michael Douglas added 10. Senior Tre’Vonne Moore also had six of his seven points in a critical stretch of the fourth quarter when Dover extended its lead from five points to 11.
“I thought this was a team victory,” said Wilson. “I thought all 10 contributed one way or another. And that’s what it’s going to take.
“We got in early foul trouble but that’s what you keep the other five guys on the bench for. I thought the bench came in and contributed like they’ve been doing all year long.”
For the Riders, sophomore Davionne Robinson scored a game-high 20 points, going 12-of-18 from the foul line. Freshman Jayvon Palmer added 12.
The Senators don’t play again until Dec. 27. That’s when they face Sanford at 9 p.m. at Slam Dunk to the Beach at Cape Henlopen High.
After a tough two-point loss to St. Georges on Saturday, Wilson was glad to get back on the winning track before the prolonged break.
“They believe in themselves,” he said. “I know that they’re kids and they were a little down. The way that they focused and they did what they needed to do, I’m happy about it.
“Yeah, we won ugly. But I’d rather win ugly than lose pretty any day. They’re a good bunch of guys. I knew that we could grind and we could make this work.’