Henlopen Boys Crown
Photos: The Sussex Central boys' basketball team, 2003 Henlopen Conference champions (above). SC's Andrew Weatherly drives on Laurel's Trey Elzey (below), and Laurel's Troy Elzey drives for a layup.
LEWES -- If ever a team was built for the game of "Survivor -- Henlopen Conference", this year's Sussex Central High School boys' basketball team would be it.
After beating Laurel 65-50 on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2003, at Cape Henlopen, for their second conference championship in the past three years, the Golden Knights had survived:
Using their overwhelming depth, along with frequent ice-downs, long baths and lots of fluids, the Knights survived all of their adversity, including a memorable, 66-60 tie-breaker with defending conference champion Sussex Tech on Tuesday night that put them in Wednesday's championship game.
Once there, they wasted no time taking command against Laurel, which was in its first conference championship game after winning its first Henlopen South crown.
Now 20-3 overall, Central bolted to a 10-0 lead before Laurel scored its first points midway through the period on a follow shot by Troy Elzey, the game's high scorer with 20 points.A
Laurel (14-8) eventually tied the game 16-16 on a short jumper by Trey Elzey, but Central took control for the rest of the half and on a follow shot by guard Kyle White, went into the locker room ahead 29-22.
White, the Knights' leading scorer with 13 points, and fellow guard Frank Roach figured prominently in an early second half run that gave Central a 39-28 advantage with 2:45 to go in the third quarter. White hit another follow shot and Roach fed forward Frank Harris off a steal for an easy layup.
Laurel put together a nice run, though, as Troy Elzey scored five straight points to cut the gap to 41-35 entering the final period.
Just as it looked like all of those games might be catching up to the Knights, though, they reeled off 8 straight points to start the fourth quarter, including a pair of fast break baskets by guard Larry Bailey, who finished with 11 points.
Up 49-35, the Knights continued to apply the pressure, expanding their lead on a steal and layup by Roach and a three-point play by Bailey for a 56-38 advantage with 4:40 to go in the game.
Laurel would pull within 56-42, but White killed any hopes for a comeback when he grabbed an offensive rebound and whipped a no-look pass to forward Josh Ward for a 60-44 lead with 2:45 remaining.
For the Knights, Weatherly contributed 12 points while Harris, Roach and forward A.J. Neal added 8 points apiece.
Troy Elzey was the only Bulldog in double figures. Standout forwards Trey Elzey and Anton Ridley suffered through a difficult night with only 8 and 7 points, respectively. Guard Pat Belle also scored 7 points.
LAUREL (50) -- Trey Elzey 3 2-6 8, Dante Penn 0 2-4 2, Pat Belle 3 1-2 7, Jackie Taylor 3 0-1 6, Troy Elzey 8 4-5 20, Anton Ridley 3 1-2 7, Antwan Ridley 0 0-0 0, Eddie Romero 0 0-0 0. TOTALS 20 10-20 50.
SUSSEX CENTRAL (65) -- Shaunell Roach 1 0-0 3, Andrew Weatherly 6 0-1 12, Bernard Witherspoon 0 0-0 0, Kyle White 6 1-2 13, Larry Bailey 4 3-7 11, Frank Roach 4 0-0 8, Jamil Young 0 0-0 0, Frank Harris 2 4-4 8, Tramar Bailey 0 0-0 0, A.J. Neal 4 0-0 8, Josh Ward 1 0-2 2. TOTALS 28 8-16 65.
Three-point field goals: Sussex Central 1 (Shaunell Roach).
Sussex Central coach Tim Slade on his team's wins over Sussex Tech and Laurel:
"Last night's game, it was more guard-oriented. Last night (against Tech) we had to worry about their penetrating guards and they had great outside shooters. Tonight (against Laurel) it was mostly focused on their big men, and that's why we went to a 3-2 zone. Those big men, they're tough. Our guys had to dig down deep and help box those guys out and get a lot of rebounds. That was a big difference. Tonight we were able to run a lot better. I don't know how, because our legs are done, they're like jelly, but fortunately adrenaline took over and we went on and won."
Slade on what he told the Knights at halftime:
"At the beginning we were motivated really well and we came out doing pretty good. And then, for some reason, at the end of the first quarter and beginning of the second quarter, we just came out real flat. I don't know what really happened, but we went into the locker room, and I'm not a yeller, but I actually yelled at my guys, and I don't usually do that. Fortunately it worked. I told them what I needed. I told them I needed more aggressiveness. My 'four' men only had three rebounds in the first half. They came in and they played real strong, they played strong in our 'Black' defense, we got a lot of layups, and once we got a lot of layups, then we went into our stall play, and fortunately it worked out."
Slade on what the championship means to his team:
"This is real big. Our program, we've had a lot of things, adversities trying to keep us down. Fortunately we overcame all of them. With Drew going out for two games on suspension, with Jamil going on a trip this weekend, and six games in a row, the snow tonight, and Jamil's toe ... I mean, some want to keep us down, but when you have this much talent, fortunately everything came our way."
Slade on his team's depth:
"Some guys fortunately they can play the whole game. Kyle White, he was tired, I had to get him out for a quick breather, he only needed like one minute. You got Frank Roach, he just wants to play. He's like a cross country guy. He doesn't stop. We call him the Energizer® Bunny. Drew played the whole game. Drew will take moments in which he'll rest on the court, and that's why you see the offense getting some easy layups. A.J. Neal came in. I think he had the last two games, I think he's played exceptionally well. Josh Ward coming off the bench. So everybody's playing real well. The depth is really what keeps us going."
Slade, the coach of the Knights' 2001 conference championship team, on taking over the team late in the season (Slade had to relinquish his coaching job when he became assistant principal in 2002):
"I wouldn't mind winning a couple more. I don't know. Policy says our administrators can not coach, so I'll probably come back in a volunteer mode again. At first, I didn't want the job in the situation that I got it, but fortunately, I felt I was the one who could come in and motivate the boys and get us to where we needed to go. The guys seemed to gel well with me. I love those guys, so, I didn't mind coming in, but I knew I was in a tough situation because everybody expected me to come in and do what I did (two years ago). And I was worried after the Dover game (78-60 loss on Saturday, Feb. 22). I was like, 'Man ...'. And then we were down to Tech (by 22 points in their 66-60 comeback win on Monday), and I was like, 'Man, these people are going to just ream me for not winning the conference title when we have a great team'. Fortunately, things worked out for me. The fans can be off my back and we can go ahead and hopefully do well in the state tournament. "
Sussex Central guard Kyle White on playing six games in six nights:
"I'd rather play games (than practice). I get more excited for games. I've been home, icing up, taking a bath, every night, soaking, just getting ready to play, night after night, getting ready to play defense and win ballgames. Like coach said, 'It's nice to get here, but it's better to win it'."
White on leading the Knights with 13 points:
"It's not about points. It's just about winning the games. Everybody on the team has to do their role. I did my role, my big men did their role, and my shooters did their role, so it's all about winning games."
White on the way he and fellow guard Frank Roach lifted the Knights after Laurel pulled within 41-35:
"We had to. I told Frank, 'you know, me and you, we've got to work together'. Without us, the defense and the offense aren't going to work."
Sussex Central guard Frank Roach on whether he'd rather practice or play six nights in a row:
"I think practice because that (games) takes a lot out of your legs. I was catching cramps in school some times, but they were giving us a lot of fluids in school, so that helped us out during the run."
Roach on the Knights' fast tempo against Laurel including fast breaks off steals:
"I used to run cross country and I run track, so that helped me a little bit, too. I still stayed fresh. I don't really get tired that much, so that's how I can get those steals and stuff."
Roach, a senior, on this year's title compared to the 2001 crown:
"I think my first one feels better because we were real hyped because we had to come back, but this time we were already up. We knew what we had to do and we got it done.
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