CLAYMONT — Archmere’s first-round matchup with Caesar Rodney in the DIAA boys state basketball tournament got off to a good start. The Auks’ first three field goals were three-point shots — two from Jon Dearing and one from Matt McCarthy — and Archmere’s defense was nearly impenetrable as they raced out to an 11-2 lead.
The Riders did not have a bucket until Malachi Brinkley’s spin move shot went in with 2:40 remaining in the first, and that seemed to spark the visitors. CR cut the Auks’ lead to three by the end of the first quarter when center Messiah Antwi grabbed an offensive rebound and laid the ball in off glass as the buzzer sounded. They cemented the comeback in the second, outscoring the Auks, 21-4, on the way to a 57-33 win March 1 at Moglia Fieldhouse.
The Riders, the 21st seed, will visit fifth-seeded Sanford on Thursday at 7 p.m. Archmere, the 12th seed, finishes the season with a 12-7 record.
In that decisive second quarter, the Riders asserted their dominance inside. Antwi, who stands 6-8, grabbed rebound after rebound as the Auks, when they were able to get shots, were held to one per possession. As soon as CR would get possession, they were on the run.
Antwi scored to open the quarter before both teams’ offenses cooled. Troy Voshell snagged a rebound two and a half minutes in, and his coast-to-coast layup put the Riders on top for the first time. Voshell followed with a three-pointer, although the Auks got back to within three on a Chris Albero free throw.
After that, however, Caesar Rodney finished the half on a 14-3 run. The first two were Antwi free throws, followed by eight straight courtesy of Craig Williams on a pair of threes and another field goal. Archmere’s lone bucket of the quarter was a late triple from McCarthy, and the Riders again scored at the buzzer, this time on a tip-in by Mekhi Tribbett. The Riders led, 31-17, at the half.
CR continued its assault in the third quarter. They hit another three three-point shots, one from Williams, who had seven total points in the quarter.
Both coaches cleared their benches as the fourth quarter progressed, and the vocal Auks student section got something to root for late in the contest. Sophomore P.J. Blessington put up a long, high-arcing three-pointer that swished through the net in the final seconds.
Williams finished with 17, and Antwi had 10 — all in the first half — for the Riders. They improved to 13-8.
For the Auks, McCarthy had 12 points, while Dearing had 11.
All photos by Mike Lang.