as Girls' Champs
Again for Henlopen Title
Photo: The Seaford High School girls' basketball team, Henlopen Conference champions, 2002.
Photos: In top photo, Seaford guard Ashlee Burbage drives to the basket. In bottom photo, Roniece Williams puts up 2 of her 10 points.
GEORGETOWN -- It's almost as if the Seaford High School girls' basketball team makes sure it is motivated by revenge come conference championship time.
For the second straight year, the Blue Jays used the motivation of a regular season loss to Caesar Rodney to whip the Riders in the Henlopen Conference championship game, 48-41, at Sussex Tech on Monday, Feb. 25, 2002.
As if for good measure, the Blue Jays gave themselves even more motivation during Monday night's title game as they fell behind 21-7 with less than two minutes remaining in the first half.
But they then embarked on a 34-4 run that gave them a 41-25 advantage in the fourth quarter and wrapped up their second straight conference title.
Last year, Seaford lost to CR during the regular season, as well, only to rebound in the conference championship with a 54-32 triumph.
For a long time, it didn't appear that this year's Blue Jays would be as fortunate as they unraveled in the first half.
Missing easy shots and layups, the Blue Jays scored only five points in the first quarter and only two more for the first 6 1/2 minutes of the second period.
But then, head coach Jim Wearden reminded them that defense got them to the championship game, that defense led to all of those easy -- albeit missed -- shots to that point, and that defense, and only defense, would bring them back.
And so began an 11-minute stretch from the second to fourth quarters in which CR had a hard time just getting a shot as it scored only 2 points in the third quarter.
During that phenomenal 34-4 run, the Blue Jays cut the Riders' lead from 14 to 4 points by halftime with six straight points to end the second quarter.
Gaurd Ashlee Burbage, who led the Jays with 14 points, sandwiched four free throws around a steal and fast break layup by Ebony Keaton to pull within 23-19 at the half.
The Blue Jays kept the pressure on in the third period and took the lead, 25-23, with another 6-0 run capped by a foul line jumper by point guard Shirelle Tingle.
A follow shot and a layup off a pass from Burbage gave center Kadedra Brittingham two baskets in a row for a 31-23 lead and a pair of three-pointers by guard Tonya Purnell put the lead in double digits, at 37-25, with 27 seconds left in the third quarter.
A follow shot by forward Roniece Williams ended the period with Seaford ahead, 39-25.
Williams then converted a steal into a fast break layup to cap the 34-4 run and put the Blue Jays ahead, 41-25, with 6:35 left in the game.
The Blue Jays got a variety of contributions to win the title.
Besides Burbage, Williams hit double figures with 10 points and Brittingham and Tingle added 8 points apiece. Purnell finished with 6 points on her two big threes.
CAESAR RODNEY (41) -- Katie Miller 3 0-0 6, Rosa White 1 1-2 3, Mackie Young 0 0-0 0, Patricia Miller 1 0-1 2, Rae Everson 2 0-0 4, Amy Graham 2 0-0 4, Trish Casarotto 2 0-0 4, Chante Livingston 1 1-2 3, April Jackson 0 0-0 0, Micki Younger 4 4-7 15. TOTALS 16 9-19 41.
SEAFORD (48) -- Ashlee Burbage 4 6-9 14, Shirelle Tingle 3 2-4 8, Dawn Penuel 0 0-0 0, Sharon Murphy 0 0-0 0, Curtisha Ross 0 0-0 0, Crystal Thompson 0 0-0 0, Ashley Dean 0 0-0 0, Chanta Kilgoe 0 0-0 0, Roniece Williams 4 2-4 10, Tonya Purnell 2 0-1 6, Ebony Keaton 1 0-3 2, Kadedra Brittingham 4 0-7 8. TOTALS 18 10-28 48.
Three-point field goals: Seaford 2 (Tonya Purnell).
Photos: Above left, Seaford guard Shirelle Tingle drives into CR's tall front line. Above right, Seaford center Kadedra Brittingham battles for a rebound.
Seaford head coach Jim Wearden on what turned his team around before halftime:
"Defense. It was all about defense. The girls just decided they were going to lay it on the line and that's exactly what they did. Shots started falling. That's what I told them at halftime. I said, 'You missed a couple of layups and you quit'. I said, 'How do you think you got wide open layups? By working hard'. I said so what if you missed them. You just go and get some more, and that's what they did, and they started making some and they started believing in themselves."
Wearden on beating Caesar Rodney for the second straight year after losing to the Riders during the regular season:
"They're a great basketball team. They really manhandled us when they played us up there. The girls came back and had some heart and wanted to play. A 34-4 run is just outstanding basketball."
Wearden on his team's scoring drought in the first 12 minutes:
"We came out and played strong. Like I said, we missed a couple of layups and we quit playing after we missed a couple of layups. I didn't understand that. I just tried to get them back into the idea of what we were here for. We're here to try to win the conference championship. I told them before the game, win or lose, it's (championship game) a reward, but go out there and work hard and get yourself ready for the state tournament. I reminded them of that during the timeout and they went out and played."
Blue Jay guard Ashlee Burbage on her role in Seaford's comeback:
"I just had to get the whole team into it and I had to take it to the basket and try to get a score up."
Burbage on the Blue Jays' big comeback:
"They came out and put on a big run on us and we had to come back and show them we could play Seaford ball and we weren't going to sink down to their level."
Burbage on winning a second conference championship as a sophomore:
"I'm real happy to get this, but more important is the state (tournament). We want to be state champs."
Seaford forward Roniece Williams on beating CR after losing during the regular season:
"I think it's a long ride and certain days we don't play good on. We don't play good on Saturdays."
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