CLAYMONT — Nearly a month after the high school basketball season kicked off in Delaware, Archmere’s boys team finally made its debut. The Auks made it memorable, getting a free throw from Jonathan Dearing with .8 seconds remaining to escape with a 45-44 win over Brandywine on Jan. 3 at Moglia Fieldhouse.
The Auks controlled the offensive boards early on and had several opportunities to score, but their shots just weren’t true. Brandywine connected first, getting a pair of three-pointers from Elijah Brown for the 6-0 lead. Finally, Matt Dellose scored on a second-chance layup with 4:42 remaining in the first for the team’s initial points of the year, and after a steal, Chris Albero scored in transition, and the teams were on their way.
The Bulldogs led, 16-9, as the first would down, but the Auks cut more than half of that lead in one play. Matt McCarthy launched a three-pointer with 2.8 seconds remaining, swishing it while being fouled. He completed the four-point play, and Brandywine’s lead was three after a quarter.
Neither team could get the offense going in the beginning of the second, but the Auks finally heated up. Albero gave the home team its first lead at the 4:50 mark when he drained a three to make it 19-18, but it was back and forth after that. The half ended in a 26-26 tie.
The Auks looked like they were going to take control in the third, with Dellose at the forefront. With the score tied at 28, Dellose scored six straight, going strong to the basket on each shot. He and his teammates made those opportunities possible with a strong defense that produced several Bulldogs turnovers.
Crisdon Wright ended the run with a layup following an offensive rebound, sparking a 6-0 run by the Bulldogs that also included a field goal from Omar Berthe ended with a twisting layup by Nathan Zoladkiewicz. Those would be the last points for the Bulldogs in the third. Albero hit another three with 1:35 remaining, and Drew Duncan scored on a back-door layup to extend the lead to five heading into the fourth.
Brandywine’s Nia-Gere Wright struck first, but Dearing answered with a three after being left all alone in the corner. Dearing then hit a two-pointer to make it a 44-36 lead, Archmere’s biggest of the night.
The Auks’ offense went cold, however, and the Bulldogs trimmed the deficit to just two points over the next several minutes on a Zoladkiewicz field goal and four free throws. Zoladkiewicz had a chance to tie the game with about a minute to go, but his shot rimmed out. He did not miss his next opportunity, cashing from 13 feet with 16 seconds remaining.
After a timeout, Albero brought the ball upcourt, started to drive down the right side and kicked back to Dearing. He faked a jumper, then drove the left side of the lane. As he was shooting, he took an arm to the face, and the whistle blew. His first attempt hit the rim, backboard and rim again before falling outside the cylinder. Brandywine was unable to get the ball inbounded in the required five seconds, and the Auks had the tough win.
Dellose led the Auks with 14 points. Dearing and Albero each had 10. Archmere (1-0) travels to Caravel on Thursday night for a 7:15 tip. Attendance is limited to two spectators per player who must be on the team’s list. The game will be streamed live on Caravel’s YouTube channel.
For Brandywine, Nia-Gere Wright led the way with 16 points, and Crisdon Wright added 12. The Bulldogs (3-3) will host district rival Concord on Saturday at 12:45 p.m.
All photos by Mike Lang.