WILMINGTON — The Smyrna High bench was already in celebration mode.
Then Ja’vier Worthy delivered the exclamation point to turn the fourth quarter into the Eagles’ own party.
Worthy’s incredible one-handed dunk over a St. Elizabeth defender punctuated a dominant Smyrna performance for a 71-50 road nonconference win at St. Elizabeth on Thursday night. Worthy led four Smyrna players in double figures with a game-high 19 points.
“I don’t even know — it was just adrenaline,” said Worthy of his dunk. “I’m surprised I even got up that high.”
Smyrna (13-3) was in control from the opening tip, starting on a 10-0 run. St. Elizabeth (11-5) never drew closer than six points and the Eagles led by as much as 29 in the second half.
“This is the best performance we’ve had,” Worthy said. “We were looking forward to coming up here and beating these guys.”
All the momentum was with Smyrna to begin the fourth quarter, thanks to Dymer’e Richardson’s three-pointer to beat the buzzer with two seconds to spare at the end of the third. It gave the Eagles a 51-36 advantage.
St. Elizabeth had the ball to begin the fourth, but the Eagles forced a turnover and quickly moved the ball up court to an open Worthy. He took a hard dribble from the left side of the key toward the hoop and towered over the lone defender, who jumped with him to slam the ball through with his right hand.
The senior’s dunk sent the Smyrna bench into hysterics, with a few of the players falling on the ground in disbelief. The dunk also gave Smyrna the first two points of a 14-0 run to begin the fourth quarter.
Sophomore Caleb Matthews followed Worthy with 17 points, freshman Jaymier Garnett had 12 and senior Jerry Williams netted 11. Richardson came off the bench to add eight points.
“We put together four good quarters with some contributions from some guys off the bench,” said Smyrna coach Andrew Mears. “This is a credit to this group. They thrive on getting each other points and seeing each other succeed.”
Matthews led a three-point barrage by the Eagles. He drained five of Smyrna’s nine threes.
Richardson knocked down a pair of threes while Worthy and Garnett made one apiece.
It’s the second year in a row Smyrna has downed the Vikings. This one was a lot easier than a year ago, when Smyrna needed a layup at the buzzer for a two-point win.
Matthews said he was able to see a lot more clear looks at the basket this year against St. Elizabeth due to its zone defense.
“I shot the ball maybe six times last year so I was surprised coming out with some open looks at the beginning,” he said. “It’s really fun when everybody is knocking down shots.”
Worthy buried a three on the first possession of the game while Matthews made his first on the Eagles’ fourth possession. That was the start of a strong shooting night where Smyrna made 9-of-20 from three-point range.
“Sometimes we shoot against the zone and it doesn’t go in so it’s a whole different look at the end,” Mears said. “We had a few go down early and that’s what set the tone for the night.”