HOCKESSIN – Salesianum had some early success inside against top-ranked Sanford, but the Warriors made some adjustments, and the Sals struggled to get the outside game going in a 65-47 loss on Jan. 11. The highly anticipated game was played in a sold-out fieldhouse on Sanford’s Hockessin campus, and they were treated to some high flying by the home team.
The Warriors feature two of the state’s best big men in Jyare Davis and Nnanna Njoku, but it was their guard who got the fireworks started. Njoku won the opening tap, and several seconds later, Corey Perkins accepted a pass from Njoku and drained a three-pointer. Davis then stole a pass in Sallies’ offensive zone, flew up the court and sent a one-handed jam down right in front of his schoolmates, bringing them to their feet.
Ethan Hinds answered for the Sals with a baseline three, and the visitors were able to stay close for much of the first quarter. Darnell Vaughan stroked a 13-foot jumper to give Salesianum a 6-5 lead, but the Warriors quickly struck back. Davis tied the game with a free throw, and when he missed the second, he picked up two offensive rebounds before putting the Warriors back on top, 8-6.
Those were the first three of seven straight Sanford would score. The Warriors took a 16-9, but that was when the Sals made a run. They scored the final four points of the first quarter – Max Ferrante hit a short jumper off the glass, and Rasheen Caulk scooped one in the lane – and took the momentum into the second.
Ferrante opened the quarter by driving down the lane for two. Perkins and Jack Brown traded three-pointers, and when Caulk went around a defender and laid in an underhanded shot, the game was tied at 20. But it wouldn’t last. Davis swished in a three to send the Warriors on their way, while the Sals, forced to the outside by a 2-3 Sanford zone, went ice cold from the field.
The highlight of the night put the Warriors ahead, 25-20. Davis sent a pass to Perkins heading down the left sideline. Perkins stopped and lobbed a pass toward the basket, where Njoku was beginning his ascent. His thunderous alley-oop brought the Sanford students to their feet and electrified the building. Sanford would finish the half on a 15-1 run for the 35-21 halftime lead.
The drought continued until the 4:23 mark of the third, when Ethan Hinds banked one in over Perkins. That began the Sals’ last comeback effort. The Sals scored eight points in the final minute and a half of the third, but they trailed, 45-34, at the end of three.
Brown’s third three-pointer of the night a minute into the fourth cut the Sanford lead to 45-37, and the Sals had hope. But the Warriors went back to work. Njoku shook the rim with another ferocious dunk, restoring a double-digit lead. Those were his last points of the night, but Davis was too much for the Sals. He scored nine points in the final quarter, dominating the inside. His final bucket was a soft two-hand stuff.
Brown finished with 15 to pace the Sals, who fell to 6-3. Rasheen Caulk had 12, and Ethan hinds finished with 10. The team plays again next Friday at rival St. Mark’s at 7:30 p.m.
Davis led all scorers with 24 points, with Njoku getting 19 and Perkins 12. The Warriors (5-2) are on the road Tuesday at Tower Hill for a 5:15 p.m. tip.