WILMINGTON – An outstanding defensive effort, particularly in the first half, and clutch free throw shooting in the second helped St. Elizabeth to a 52-44 victory over Caravel in boys basketball on Jan. 20 at the St. E Center. The win lifted the Vikings to 11-1 this season, and it was their first win over a Delaware team with a winning record.
The Buccaneers got off to a quick start, taking a 12-8 lead after one quarter. Caravel was able to push the ball inside, using its height to its advantage as David Sterling and Jeb Williams each scored twice underneath. The lead increased to six, 14-8, when Kevin Keister scored nearly two minutes into the second on a follow of a missed shot. That would be Caravel’s biggest lead of the night.
The Vikings’ comeback began when they started hitting shots they had missed in the first quarter. The Bucs had packed their defense in tight and dared the Vikings to shoot over them, and in the middle of the second quarter the shots began to fall.
Nasir Brown scored his first points of the night on a jumper from 15 feet. After a soaring block by Colin Hockenbrock, Jaden Dickerson drained a three-point shot to pull St. Elizabeth within one. Brown hit two free throws to push the run to 7-0 and put the Vikings ahead by a point, and that was the margin at the half.
“Today we started kind of slow, so we had to work our group back into it in the second half. We felt we weren’t playing aggressive enough in the first half,” Brown said. “We went down to the locker room, and Coach (Mike Cassidy) got us right.”
The third quarter began with an old-fashioned three-point play by Brown, but Keister answered with an NBA-range three-pointer to keep it a one-point St. E’s lead. The Vikings were aggressive on offense, and it paid off with nine more trips to the free throw line in the third. Two of those came from Hockenbrock, who leaped to intercept a Bucs pass and took some contact while attempting a shot.
The Vikings continually disrupted the Buccaneers’ passing, with several players contributing. Dickerson picked up a block, and Andrew Spychalski intercepted a few passes.
The highlight of the night came with 1:45 left in the third. Brown picked the pocket of one of the Buccaneers and streaked toward the other end of the floor. He rose up and emphatically slammed the ball home, and he was fouled on the play, bringing the crowd to their feet. He completed the three-point play to extend the lead to six, and that was the margin heading into the final eight minutes.
Brown said he had to get that dunk after getting called for carrying the ball on an earlier dunk.
“As I came down, I said, ‘This is my opportunity right here,’ and I just took off. You could see my teammates were really excited for me. We feed off high energy. It gets us hyped,” he said.
Hockenbrock scored the first points of the fourth on a layup after yet another steal. The lead grew to 10 before Caravel began a final run. Sterling spun a reverse layup off the glass and in. Keister hit a mid-range jumper. A block by Justin Owens led to a Jeb Williams layin, and the St. Elizabeth lead was cut to 42-38. After a Vikings free throw, the 6-8 Williams hit another lay-in to bring the Bucs to within three.
But Hockenbrock ended the 8-1 run with a layup, and the Vikings scored their final seven points on free throws to seal the victory. For the game, the Vikings made 27 of 37 free throw attempts.
The game was the first “Hooping for a Cure,” benefiting the Leukemia Research Foundation of Delaware. Both teams wore purple t-shirts during warmups, and various fundraising efforts took place during the game. Also, the game’s corporate sponsors pledged $1,000 for each made three-point shot. There were a total of five.
Brown led the Vikings with 17 points, while Dickerson added 10 and Hockenbrock nine. St. Elizabeth travels to Saint Mark’s on Tuesday for a 7:15 p.m. tip.
Keister had 18 to lead all scorers. He was joined in double figures by Williams with 12 and Sterling with 10. The Buccaneers (10-5) host Red Lion, also on Tuesday at 7:15.