Game of the Week
Photo: Cape's J.J. Hazzard outbattles Seaford's Courtney Griffin for rebound. The two players led their teams in scoring.
LEWES -- The Cape Henlopen High School boys' basketball team proved mighty resilient in its 63-62 season-opening win over visiting Seaford Tuesday night, Dec. 7, 1999.
The Vikings overcame the loss of standout forward J.J. Hazzard midway through the fourth period and withstood several charges by the Blue Jays in the final minutes to nail down the Henlopen Conference Northern Division victory.
When Hazzard left for the hospital with a gash in his head from an opponent's teeth with 5:35 left to play, the Vikings held a precarious 55-52 lead. Considering that Hazzard had already scored a team-high 16 points by then, his departure seemed ominous.
But in those final five minutes, the Vikings got crucial baskets from Bob Croce and Darrell Davis and held their breath while Seaford missed a free throw, a three-pointer and committed a turnover in the final 30 seconds.
The victory wasn't secure until just a few seconds remained. The Blue Jays inbounded the ball following two missed free throws by Cape's Tom Sheehan with 8 seconds left, but Blue Jay standout Courtney Griffin's pass to teammate Jamar Gamble didn't get to Gamble in time to beat the final buzzer with a game-winning shot.
Hazzard was joined in double figures by teammates Darrell Davis and Sheehan, who finished with 13 points apiece, and by Croce, who contributed 10 points.
Griffin led Seaford with 24 points while teammates Brent Evans and C.J. Scott added 11 and 9, respectively. Wayne Kenton finished with 9 points, too, including a pair of three-pointers.
Seaford rebounded from an early 17-7 deficit to take a 36-35 halftime lead. The Blue Jays continued their run at the start of the second half, with Griffin hitting a pair of baskets, Kenton nailing a three-pointer and Evans slamming home a rebound.
The Jays' 48-41 lead wouldn't last long, however, as Cape stormed back with a 10-0 run to take a 51-48 lead after three quarters.
Croce started the spurt with a layup and foul and when he missed the free throw, Sheehan grabbed the rebound and put it back in. Davis then followed with a fast break dunk off a steal to pull Cape within 48-47 before Seaford could call time out.
After the time out, Hazzard hit a layup to put Cape up 49-48 and Croce screamed to the basket with a layup off a pass from Davis to make it 51-48 at the end of the quarter.
The run reached 12-0 as a Sheehan layup to start the fourth quarter gave the Vikings a 53-48 advantage and the lead eventually grew to 60-54 on a Davis rebound and basket with 3:52 remaining.
Seaford quickly recovered, however, as a baseline jumper by C.J. Scott and a a three-point play by Evans on a goaltending call and foul shot made it 60-59 with 2:24 to go.
An 18-foot jumper by Jamar Gamble gave the Blue Jays a 61-60 edge with 1:10 remaining, but Croce connected on a jumper in the lane to give Cape a 62-61 lead with 48 seconds left.
Just a couple of seconds later, Seaford's Scott was fouled but he missed the front end of the one and one and Griffin couldn't save the ball as it bounced out of bounds.
Backup point guard Taron Biles then hit the front end of a one and one for a 63-61 Cape advantage with 40 seconds left to set up the frantic final seconds.
SEAFORD (62) -- Courtney Griffin 9 5-6 24; Jamar Gamble 2 1-2 5; Wayne Kenton 3 1-3 9; Brent Evans 4 3-3 11; Troy Purnell 1 0-0 2; C.J. Scott 4 1-4 9; Matt Vincent 1 0-0 2. Totals: 24 11-18 62.
CAPE HENLOPEN (63) -- Taron Biles 0 1-3 1; Pat Woods 1 2-2 4; Dwayne Holloman 3 0-1 6; J.J. Hazzard 7 2-2 16; Darrell Davis 6 1-2 13; Bob Croce 5 0-1 10; Tom Sheehan 6 1-3 13. Totals: 28 7-14 63.
Three-pointers: Wayne Kenton (2), Courtney Griffin.
Cape Henlopen coach Ed Waples on the victory:
"I was nervous the entire game. I knew coach (Charlie) O'Donnell would have his team ready to roll. We knew we had to work hard and that if we did, at the end it would be anyone's game. I just wanted my kids to hang in there and if they did, I thought we'd have a chance."
Waples on what he told his team after leading scorer J.J. Hazzard left the game with an injury with 5:35 remaining:
"I told them that we are a team and we have to play five people on the floor. J.J. is extremely important to us but we had to play without him and Bob Croce and Dwayne Holloman really stepped up for us."
Waples on his team's performance outside of two impressive runs at the start of the game and end of the third quarter:
"We got into this thing with turnovers. We get into the flow of the game and all of a sudden something doesn't go their way and they mess up. But once they mess up, they've got to keep doing it for awhile. Turnovers are the thing that hurt us the most and we're going to work on that."
Seaford coach Charlie O'Donnell on the missed chances at the end of the game:
"Sometimes it happens that things don't go your way. We have a lot of young guys who were in their first varsity game and had never been in that position (a close score late in the game). That will make them better. It hurts that we lost, but we'll learn a lot from this."
O'Donnell on his team's effort:
"We wanted to play hard, play smart, and have fun, and we did those things. We missed some chances to score and there were a couple of things we didn't do, but both teams played real hard. During both of Cape's runs, I felt like we were playing their game and not ours."
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