DOVER — Stephen Wilson ran Wednesday afternoon’s practice with late-season intensity.
The Dover High boys’ basketball coach positioned a player here, barked out a correction there.
Defense, Wilson kept reminding his players. Defense is what’s going to decide games now.
And, with a DIAA state tournament berth almost within their grasp, he certainly wasn’t going to let the Senators overlook their last two opponents.
Dover (7-3 Henlopen Northern Division, 11-7 overall) hosts rival Caesar Rodney (4-7, 7-11) today at 7:15 p.m. before playing a 6:15 p.m. game at Sussex Central (0-11, 4-15) on Tuesday in their regular-season finale.
“What we say is every game means something from this day forward,” said Wilson. “We started our playoffs about a month ago. After our Smyrna loss (a 58-57 setback on Jan. 28), we had a meeting and talked about, ‘Our playoffs start now.’
“I’m still not comfortable believing we’re in the tournament. I can’t rest. ... We’re not that good. When you lose to some teams that we lost to — and we lose by one or two — that’s a reflection on the coach. That’s a reflection on details.”
The Senators are trying to return to the state tourney after missing it last year with an 8-12 record. This year, they were 6-7 after losing three in a row.
But Dover has reeled off five victories in a row since that Smyrna loss.
CR, on the other hand, has been going in the wrong direction lately. The Riders, who were once 7-7, have lost their last four games.
To Wilson, though, that won’t mean anything in today’s matchup.
“I’m worried about them,” he said. “Coach (Freeman) Williams, we coached together for years. I know he’s going to come in and have his team play hard.
“I truly believe that him playing those young guys is only helping him. Those young guys are playing some good basketball right now.”
Dover beat the Riders, 59-46, on Dec. 12 to give it three straight wins in the rivalry.
Even though things are going pretty well for the Senators right now, Wilson keeps reminding them that they haven’t accomplished anything yet.
“Yeah, we’re starting to get some buzz back,” he said. “Yes, we’re starting to get a little respect back. But to finish second place in our conference is nothing but the first loser. And not to be able to play in the conference championship game. ...
“I think we need to do a better job with a lot of the little things. We have to rebound, we have to cut our turnovers down, we’ve got to a better job on the free throws, we’ve got to do a better job of getting open, we’ve got to prepare for what teams are going to do to us defensively. We’ve got to just keep working.”
Girls’ North title on the line
The Sussex Central and Caesar Rodney girls will meet on Friday at 7:15 p.m. at CR with the Henlopen Northern Division title riding on it.
If the Golden Knights (10-0 North, 15-3 overall) win, they will wrap up the Henlopen North regular-season championship. It would be Central’s first North title since 1995.
Sussex Central won the first meeting between the two teams, 69-47.
A victory for CR (10-1, 15-3), though, would leave the North in a tie and force a playoff game between the two.
Henlopen South scenarios
The Milford boys (9-2 South, 11-8 overall) control their own destiny in their bid to win the Henlopen South championship.
A win in Saturday’s contest at home against Delmar (7-3, 11-6) will give the Buccaneers the regular-season title. Tipoff is scheduled for 1:30 p.m.
Milford has already defeated Delmar once this season — 60-53 at Delmar on Dec. 18.
If the Wildcats win Saturday’s game and also beat Laurel today at 5:45 p.m., Delmar will tie Milford for the championship. The two teams would then have a playoff to decide the South crown.
In the girls’ South race, Milford has the inside track to the championship and could clinch with a victory at Delmar in Friday’s game (4 p.m.). The Buccaneers beat the Wildcats 56-24 earlier this season.
Sports editor Andy Walter can be reached
at 741-8227 or firstname.lastname@example.org.