Back with Tech
Victory Over Lake Forest
Photo: The Sussex Tech High School boys' basketball team, Henlopen Conference champions, 2002.
Photos: Sussex Tech swingman Chris Hopkins (top) flies to the basket, while guards Rashawn Johnson (middle) and Brandon Mann (bottom) drive on defenders.
LEWES -- For the Sussex Tech High School boys' basketball team to experience any of the success the program had become accustomed to this year, it figured that virtually everything had to go perfectly.
That it didn't, that the 2001-2002 season had its share of potholes in the road, didn't bow this determined group of Ravens, though.
And on Tuesday, Feb. 26, the Ravens' improbable season continued as they brought the Henlopen Conference championship trophy back to Georgetown after a one-year absence.
Tech, the champions of the Northern Division, defeated South champion Lake Forest 58-49 before 2,000 fans at Cape Henlopen Tuesday night.
The win gave the Tech program its third conference title in the last four years, but for all of the Ravens except for senior Chris Hopkins, this was their first.
"I read somewhere it's not the destination, but the journey," said Tech head coach Jerry Kobasa, "and it's been a hell of a journey this year. It really has. It's been great."
In rising to 19-4 overall heading into the state tournament, the Ravens, unlike a 63-60 win over Lake Forest during the regular season, took it to the Spartans early Tuesday night.
And except for a brief moment midway through the third period, when Lake pulled within 30-27 with 2:51 left, Tech controlled the game throughout.
After Lake pulled to within three points, the Ravens went on a 6-0 run on a pair of baskets by centerJamel Trott and a steal and fast break layup by guard Brandon Mann for a 36-27 advantage they never relinquished.
The lead would reach 12 points later in the third period and 14 points in the fourth quarter, at 50-36, when Hopkins, falling to the floor, banked in a shot and tacked on a free throw for a three-point play with 5:26 left in the game.
Hopkins, who finished with a team-high 15 points in his second game back from a broken arm suffered Jan. 17, became much more aggressive in the second half and hit 7 of his 9 free throw attempts to keep the Spartans at bay.
The team's leading scorer before the injury, Hopkins sat on the bench while the Ravens clinched the North crown and the berth in the conference championship game.
In his absence, the younger Ravens discovered themselves, as Trott, Mann, guard Rashawn Johnson, forward Kevin Maull, center Jamaal Timmons, and forwards Chris and Travis White took turns filling the void left by Hopkins' absence.
Against Lake, while Hopkins was putting together a double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds, Trott was doing likewise with 13 points and a monster performance on the boards with 19 rebounds.
Johnson, meanwhile, contributed 14 points to the victory, and Mann and Maull added 9 and 5, respectively.
Those efforts more than offset the 25-point performance of Lake standout Terrell Hicks.
The Ravens bolted to a 10-1 lead in the first quarter and led 14-4 with 2:17 to go in the period on a jumper by Johnson, who scored 10 of his points in the first half.
Tech padded its lead in the second period by outscoring Lake 10-6 for a 24-17 halftime lead.
Lake dropped to 16-7 with the loss.
Photo: Tech forward Kevin Maull drives hard to the basket while center Jamel Trott (54) prepares for a rebound.
LAKE FOREST (49) -- Terrell Hicks 8 7-9 25, Jeff Scott 2 0-0 4, Sean Townsend 0 2-4 2, Tyrone Evans 1 1-2 3, Mike Taylor 0 0-0 0, Akeem Bunch 4 0-1 8, Larry Rykard 1 2-2 4, Darron Johnson 1 0-0 3. TOTALS 17 12-18 48.
SUSSEX TECH (58) -- Chris Hopkins 4 7-9 15, Rashawn Johnson 6 2-2 14, Brandon Mann 2 5-6 9, Kevin Maull 2 1-4 5, Cody White 0 0-2 0, Jamel Trott 6 1-6 13, Travis White 1 0-0 2, Jamaal Timmons 0 0-0 0. TOTALS 21 17-29 58.
Three-point field goals: Lake Forest 3 (Hicks 2, Johnson).
Sussex Tech head coach Jerry Kobasa on the improbable championship season:
"We're really excited. This is a team that nobody expected to do anything this year. A lot of people said this would be a fourth- or fifth-place team. And you know, we were wondering where we'd be. We lost a lot of key players last year. You really only had (Chris) Hopkins back as an established player. But what Brandon Mann has done, and Jamel Trott, and Rashawn Johnson as a sophomore, and then every now and then, the contributions, (Kevin) Maull, Cody White, Travis White, (Jamaal) Timmons, who came off the bench game after game. We're really proud of these kids. I don't care what's going on. We're really proud of these kids."
Kobasa on battling through adversity this season:
"We fought through a lot. We had no idea what we were coming into this year and then when Chris got hurt, a lot of the guys just kind of picked up their bootstraps and said, 'Hey, let's go'. And that's when Trott really stepped into focus. Coach (Ronson) Burton was working hard with him on his inside game and put him in the starting lineup. I said, 'Who do you want to start?', and he said, 'Let's put Trott in there'. Trott picked us up and that's when Johnson took his game to another level. He was averaging 14 a game and the next thing you know he's averaging 20 a game. Trott came up and started giving us extra points."
Kobasa on Chris Hopkins' second-half performance:
"I told Chris in the first half to let the game flow to him. I think he was trying too hard in the first half. He wanted to show people he was back. He started with a couple of bad passes here and not playing defense well and we talked to him at halftime and just said, 'Let the game flow to you', and he did that. Then he started making some good moves and got the ball to people a couple of times. They started collapsing on him and he got the ball to whoever needed it. He wasn't worried about scoring. Earlier a couple of times he thought, 'I've got to help the team by scoring', but he didn't do that in the second half and he proved why he's an all-state player."
Sussex Tech swingman Chris Hopkins on coming back from what was thought to be a season-ending broken arm:
"It (comeback) just happened. i kept praying. I didn't think I'd be able to play."
Hopkins on winning the championship as a senior:
"This is special. Tthis is my last year. It feels great. I've been waiting a long time for this."
Hopkins on his teammates, who won all but one of their games in his absence:
"They played with a lot of intensity when I wasn't there. Tonight they played with even more intensity because they knew the stakes were bigger."
Tech center Jamel Trott on the championship effort:
"It was a total team effort. Even the guys who didn't play, they were in the game, too."
Trott on his performance:
"I'm just coming off a two-game little shutdown. I told coach, 'I'm back'. I tried my best to get focused for this game because you only get one of these. You never get one of these back. That's why I'm proud our team stepped up and took care of business."
Tech guard Rashawn Johnson on this championship season:
"When we lost Chris, everybody just decided we were going to win the rest for him. Then we fell two games, but then we bounced back tonight to become the Henlopen Conference champions once again. The whole team was into it. We put our hearts into it. We wanted to get this one for him and our other seniors because this is their last year and they'll never be able to repeat this again."
Johnson on the key to beating Lake Forest:
"Coach told us before the game that we had to come out, not like we did the last two games, and just play ball from the begining instead of waiting for the second half, so we came out with intensity. We got this one for him."
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