Publisher, Sussex County Online
Photos (from top): Sussex Tech's Brittany Atkins looks for room against Seaford's Chaunta Kilgoe, Seaford's Shirelle Tingle drives on Tech's Megan Corell, and Tech's Toni Jones brings the ball downcourt.
GEORGETOWN -- Ordinarily, the Seaford High School girls' basketball team has to look north of the Sussex County border for a challenge.
This year, however, the Blue Jays expected a workout from Sussex Tech, and that's just what they got in a 54-41 Henlopen Conference Northern Division victory on Friday, Jan. 3, 2003.
Now 5-1 overall, the Blue Jays kept pace with Polytech and Caesar Rodney in the Henlopen North with a 3-1 conference mark. Tech is 2-2 in the conference.
While a double-digit loss may not seem like much of a consolation, consider that Tech was playing a Seaford team that beat its Sussex County opponents by an average of 43 points in 12 contests last year.
In fact, Seaford hasn't lost to a Sussex County foe for at least four years, as the last Sussex team to come within 10 points of the Jays was Cape Henlopen, which lost to Seaford 48-39 on opening night of the 1999-2000 season.
Last year, Cape Henlopen, with Toni Jones, the conference's leading scorer, came closest to Seaford but still lost by 22 points.
It would figure, then, that Sussex Tech would give the Jays fits this year with the transfer of Jones and her sister Anika from Cape to Tech for the 2002-2003 season.
And that they did, even with Toni Jones suffering through a sub-par night with 9 points.
"With the Jones girls transferring here and with (Jaime) Townsend and (Megan) Corell already here, they can play with just about anybody," said Seafore head coach James Wearden. "I knew we were in for a battle. They were playing like it was the conference championship game, and we had to play that way, too."
It wasn't until late in the third quarter that Seaford began to exhibit the skills that carried it to the state semifinals last year with pressure defense resulting in fast breaks and its set offense bombing away with three-pointers.
The Blue Jays, who hadn't played since a win over Sussex Central on Dec. 20, trailed by as many as six points midway through the fourth quarter, but they got the spark they needed on a three-pointer by guard Ashlee Burbage..
Burbage's three pulled the Jays within five points at 34-29. That would be followed by a layup by Ebony Keaton, a drive by Burbage, a jumper by Chaunta Kilgoe and a fast break layup off a steal by Burbage for a 37-34 Seaford advantage with 20 seconds left in the third.
A follow shot by Anika Jones at the buzzer cut the Jays' lead to 37-36 entering the final period, but Seaford started quickly in the fourth quarter on a three-pointer by Tonya Purnell and a bank shot by Burbage off a steal that completed an 18-6 run and put the Jays up 42-36 with 6:38 remaining in the game.
Tech cut the gap to 42-39 on a three-pointer by Toni Jones with 6:25 left, but Seaford went on a game-clinching 9-2 run to go up 51-41 with 3:41 left.
Forward Roniece Williams canned a three-pointer and drove for a layup and foul shot for a three-point play, while guard Shirelle Tingle added a three-pointer during the run.
Burbage paced the Jays with 13 points, while Williams added 12 lmore. Purnell finished with 11 points and Keaton contributed 8 points.
Tech, despite Jones' sub-par scoring night, pushed Seaford to the limit thanks to center Brittany Atkins. Atkins controlled the boards and the paint for most of the first three quarters on the way to 18 points, but she wouldn't score after hitting a layup to give Tech a 30-24 lead with 4:37 left in the third period.
With Atkins going dry, Toni Jones tried to regain her touch as she scored all five of Tech's points in the final period. The Ravens, however, didn't score a point after Jones connected on a three-pointer with 5:34 left and on a follow shot in the lane with 4:58 to go.
SEAFORD (54) -- Ashlee Burbage 5 1-4 13, Shirelle Tingle 2 0-0 5, Ashlee Jones 0 0-0 0, Chaunta Kilgoe 1 0-0 2, Roniece Williams 4 2-3 12, Tonya Purnell 4 0-0 11, Ebony Keaton 1 6-11, 8, Angie Owens 2 0-0 4. TOTALS 18 9-18 54.
SUSSEX TECH (41) -- Melissa Morris 2 2-2 6, Anika Jones 4 0-0 8, Monette Malabet 0 0-1 0, Toni Jones 4 0-0 9, Brittany Atkins 7 4-9 18, Megan Corell 0 0-0 0, Myeisa Everette 0 0-0 0, Amber Vanderwende 0 0-0 0, Jaime Townsend 0 0-0 0. TOTALS 17 6-12 41.
Three-pointers: Seaford 8 (Purnell 3, Burbage 2, Williams 2, Tingle); Sussex Tech 1 (Toni Jones).
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