DOVER — Playing for the Henlopen Conference boys’ basketball title, North champion Dover continued to have problems with Milford.
Fortunately for the Senators, their solution in Friday night’s bout was in the form of senior Jordan Allen.
Allen scored a game-high 39 points, including several that came during a late Dover run that led to a 72-59 victory and the conference crown.
Arguably his biggest points of the night came just after Milford junior Brion Murray tied the game 52-52 with 4:15 remaining in regulation.
Without hesitation, Allen hoisted a three-pointer from no-man’s land that swished almost silently through the net and began a 20-7 Senators run to close out the game.
“That’s what I do,” Allen said of the field goal, which he shot from the right side of the court closer to the timeline than the arc. “My coaches, my teammates they believe in me and whenever they say shoot it I do.”
The senior added that though he accounted for more than half Dover’s points, winning a Henlopen championship was a team effort.
“We had the answer, not me,” Allen said. “My teammates, we love each other. It’s all about playing for one another.”
His sentiments were echoed by coach Stephen Wilson.
Clutching the conference championship trophy close, Wilson choked up as he talked about what the title meant not only to his team but to the community as a whole.
“Everything we do, we do for God and our city,” Wilson said, pointing to the home crowd. “Look, they’re all here. It means everything to the city.”
Wilson added, though, that plenty of credit for the win belonged to his star senior.
“I didn’t realize he had 39, but that kid sure is doing a good thing for our school district right now,” Wilson said of Allen. “Not only is he a good student, he’s a very good athlete. He’s making the district proud.
“When his feet are set, I don’t have any problem with him (shooting long three-pointers) at all. He’s a college basketball player, and I’m going to keep on letting him do it.”
From the opening tip Dover raced out to a 7-2 lead, but as it would do all night long until the end Milford rallied back.
Trailing by three possessions on two different occasions in the second quarter, Milford went on mini-runs aided by poor Dover free-throw shooting and trailed just 25-22 at halftime.
Midway through the third quarter, Milford went on a 10-0 run capped by three-point play from Murray and took its only lead of the contest at 34-32. It lasted only seconds, as Allen led a 7-0 Dover run to put the Senators back on top.
Though the Southern Division champion Buccaneers again clawed back and closed the deficit to one near the quarter’s end, Allen ignited the crowd when he drove the lane and softly laid-in a left-hander at the buzzer.
Behind by six just one minute prior to the Senators’ end of the fourth quarter run, Milford got unanswered threes by senior Dame Coleman and Murray to produce the 52-52 tie. From there, however, the show was all Allen’s.
“We were doing everything we could to try to keep Jordan in check,” said Milford head coach Bob Spath, whose team will play Howard Wednesday night in the state tournament opening round. “Give all the credit to Jordan. I mean… that’s a lot of points.”
Like Milford, Dover will now turn its attention to the state tournament. The Senators, however, have a first round bye as the No. 3 seed and will not take the court again until Friday.
With the goals of winning the Northern Division and conference accomplished, Wilson said his team will begin preparing soon for the ultimate prize – a state championship.
“We’ve reached two of goals, but we’ve got a lot more to do,” he said. “There’s some things we’ve got to work on. We’ll let them celebrate this for a day and come back tomorrow ready to work.”