Game of the Week
Audio Clips | Video Clips
Congratulate the Knights
Photos: In top photo, Sussex Central guard Leroy Mann could only fall to the floor to celebrate his team's North title. Below, SC forward Andrew Weatherly drives for a critical basket late in the game.
GEORGETOWN -- The celebration will wait for another day.
On Thursday night, Feb. 15, 2001, the Sussex Central High School boys' basketball team was too overcome by emotion, fatigue and injuries to celebrate its first Henlopen Conference Northern Division championship since 1993.
The Golden Knights, battered and weary, survived the Henlopen North gauntlet with a 54-48 victory over visiting Cape Henlopen Thursday that clinched the North crown and a berth in the Henlopen Conference championship game against South champion Lake Forest.
But instead of the typical whooping and hollering, buckets of water on the coach's head, and banging of lockers so typical of today's championship celebrations, the Knights just looked for shoulders to cry on, walls to lean on, and floors to collapse on.
Head coach Tim Slade couldn't hold back the tears as he melted into his mother's arms.
Senior point guard Leroy Mann, bothered by his third twisted ankle of the season, collapsed onto the Sussex Central gymnasium floor in exhaustion after the last seconds ticked off the clock.
And senior center James Cannon, fighting off a sore shoulder to score 15 points to go with junior forward Orlando Farrow's game-high 20, could barely get off the bench in the locker room to get dressed.
The Knights' win would have made a great Survivor episode what with the gritty effort that finally subdued Cape Henlopen and raised them to 16-2 in the North and 18-2 overall.
With 6-foot-7 forward Layton Wright, a prominent role player for the Knights in recent games, out due to team rules violations, and standout sophomore forward Andrew Weatherly hobbled by a right thigh injury that had him on crutches all day, the Knights managed to hold on to withstand a late Cape charge.
Sussex Central had been sharp in the first half as it built a 32-20 halftime lead, but Slade said he could see the fatigue start to set in late in the second quarter when the Vikings closed what had been a 32-16 deficit by half's end.
Cape knocked two more points off Central's lead in the third period, then cut deeply into the beleaguered Knights' lead in the fourth quarter.
Cape pulled within 50-46 with 2:28 remaining on a pair of foul shots by forward Antonio Alford and had two chances to move closer but committed two turnovers.
The Knights also committed several of their 13 second half turnovers in the game's waning minutes, but a driving layup with 46.8 seconds left and a blocked shot with 17.5 seconds left by Weatherly gave them just enough to finish off the victory.
The Vikings had cut the lead to 45-40 early in the fourth period on a steal and three-pointer by guard Joe Vavala and a steal of the ensuing inbounds pass for a layup by Alford.
Weatherly and Farrow momentarily halted the Vikings' momentum with a layup by Weatherly and a free throw and layup by Farrow that made it 50-40 Central with 4:48 left.
Viking center Andre Dunning, however, cut the gap to 50-42 on a layup and after several exchanges, Cape guard Pat Woods hit a basket to make it 50-44 with 2:41 left.
Woods finished with 12 points but shot just an uncharacteristically poor 5-for-17. Alford led Cape with 14 points and Dunning added 10 more.
CAPE HENLOPEN (48) -- Matt Jones 1 0-0 2, Dewayne Holloman 0 0-2 0, Joe Vavala 2 0-1 6, Pat Woods 5 2-2 12, Matthew Duffield 1 0-0 2, Antonio Alford 5 4-5 14, Patrick Jackson 1 0-0 2, Andre Dunning 5 0-1 10. TOTALS 20 6-11 48.
SUSSEX CENTRAL (54) -- Andrew Weatherly 4 0-2 8, Frank Roach 0 0-1 0, Leroy Mann 2 1-1 5, Darris Sample 3 0-0 6, James Cannon 5 3-6 15, Orlando Farrow 9 2-3 20. TOTALS 23 6-13 54.
Three-point field goals: Cape Henlopen (Vavala 2); Sussex Central 2 (Cannon).
Sussex Central coach Tim Slade on the victory:
"We're beat up. I was just proud of the guys. They stuck it out there mentally. Their adrenaline took over in this game. We were beat up. I'm not trying to make excuses, but we were pretty much beat up. We weren't able to get into our usual flow of pushing the ball, but these guys stuck behind me and stuck with it and won the game."
Slade on his team's fatigue:
"I noticed it at the end of the second quarter. We had a good lead, was up by like 16, but they were all winded and couldn't do anything. We were just fortunate enough to go in with a 10-point lead at halftime. We came out kind of pumped up but at the end you could see they were all bent over. They gave it everything they got. If we had gone a fifth quarter I can't say anything that it would have come out our way. Fortunately they stuck in there, James Cannon got the key rebounds, and Andrew Weatherly, I know he's going to be on crutches again tomorrow, but he came through at the end with some nice layups and putbacks."
Slade on winning the Henlopen North for the first time as SC's head coach:
"All year you got to hear that you guys can't win the North and then you've also got to hear the fact that you're not going to beat Coach Peden (Cape coach Jerry Peden). It means a lot that we came in here and avenged our loss and meant a lot that it was against Coach Peden. That's why I'm so emotional right now. They know how much I wanted to beat my former coach and they stuck behind me and I thank them a lot."
Slade on facing arch-rival Sussex Tech on Tuesday, Feb. 20:
"I don't know what we're going to do against Tech. I know these guys want to play against Tech and I would like to rest them, but it's going to be a sold-out crowd and they're going to want to play, so I guess I have no choice but to let them play. We have a lot of injuries. Hopefully four days is enough to heal."
SC center James Cannon on winning the North:
"I've been with Slade for three years and we've never really won anything. To win the North, it's just amazing."
Cannon on the team's fatigue:
"We're a little tired. We're a little beat up. But we've got to bounce back."
Cannon on Andrew Weatherly's and Orlando Farrow's big plays down the stretch:
"I know Orlando and Drew they step up whenever I need them so if I'm not playing well I know they're going to step up."
Cannon on beating Cape Henlopen:
"We lost to them the first time and it's good to get a little revenge."
SC guard Leroy Mann on the North title:
"This means a lot. I've been here for four years now playing basketball. Me and my partner, James Cannon, I always told him we were going to put up a banner here before we leave, for football or basketball, and now we've got one for both of them. I'm loving it right now."
Mann on the team's fatigue:
"It was hot in here. With all of the people in here, it got real hot. It's not that we aren't conditioned. It was hot, we needed breaks, we needed water, just something to regenerate us. We came out with a victory. Some of the people on our bench stepped up when I went out and when others went out with fouls. It was an overall victory. I'm proud of them."
Mann on what was said during timeouts as Cape made its run:
"Our coach just said, 'Don't worry asbout the score.' Every time we came out he said, 'It's 0-0', every time. Just keep your composure, stay calm, get the ball to the guards and bring it up, set the plays up and run the plays. That's all we've got to do is run our plays, run our plays, and everything will open up. That's all we had to do was stick to our script and just go ahead and run the plays."
Copyright © 1999-2001 Sussex County Online