SMYRNA — Faced with the threat of sitting on the bench, Ian Robertson and the rest of the Cape Henlopen High starters responded in a big way.
The Vikings overcame an ugly first quarter with a big run in the second and managed to hold on for a 47-46 boys’ basketball victory over host Smyrna Friday night in a Henlopen Conference Northern Division contest.
It was the first loss of the season for Smyrna (3-1 Henlopen North, 5-1 overall), while Cape Henlopen (4-1, 5-5) snapped a four-game losing streak.
Robertson, a sophomore, led the Vikings with 17 points and hit three three-pointers. He said a pep talk from coach Stephen Re helped motivate Cape to rally from a 13-5 deficit at the end of the first quarter.
“He was yelling at us because we didn’t have any energy and we weren’t really fighting hard for the win,” Robertson said. “He said he was going to sub us all if we kept that up. That really got us going because we love to play.”
The Vikings took that threat seriously, going on a 13-0 run to take the lead in the second quarter.
“I asked them when they were going to get tired of losing,” Re said. “You know me, I’m extremely intense and I can’t stand it. We compete so hard in practice and do all the right things, so I asked them, why couldn’t they do that during the game?”
While the second quarter is what brought Cape back into the game, the Vikings needed a strong finish to escape Smyrna with a win.
The game was tied 38-38 before sophomore Randy Rickards scored on a shot from under the hoop off a feed from Drew Mulcahy to put the Vikings back in front. Demetrius Price then added to the lead with a circus layup in traffic before Rasheed Woods drained a three for a 45-38 advantage with 1:45 remaining.
Smyrna didn’t go quietly as Ja’vier Worthy netted 18 of his game-high 20 points in the third and fourth quarters. Worthy hit three layups in three possessions in the game’s final minute to close the gap to 47-46.
Robertson was shooting free throws with four seconds left but missed the front end of the one-and-one. The ball was tipped by Mulcahy before Smyrna gathered it and attempted a three-quarter court shot.
Robertson deflected the buzzer-beater attempts as Smyrna protested for a foul call which went uncalled by the referees.
“I went up and I deflected it,” Robertson said. “It probably could have been a foul, but the ref didn’t call it.”
“Coach Re always has a solid, disciplined team that’s going to fight you for four quarters,” said Smyrna coach Andrew Mears. “We knew what we were going to get. This is our first look at true adversity but I don’t think we stepped up to the challenge.”
“With any loss should come a lot of learning experiences,” Mears added. “Hopefully we’ll find out how to respond to adversity next time it hits.”
Rickards finished with 10 points for the Vikings and Jerry Harden chipped in seven.
“I knew it would take this team a little bit of time to get it together,” Re said. “We can get it done. We’ve just got to do it together. When we figure it out, we’re going to be really good.”