The first round of the boys’ basketball state tournament tipped off Tuesday evening at a number of locations throughout the state. One of the many first round games featured the #12 seed Archmere Auks hosting the #21 seed Caesar Rodney Riders.
The Auks came out early with their usual brand of half- court basketball, making the extra pass and cutting constantly until a quality shot presented itself. The first four quality shotS they found were all 3-point field goal attempts in which they made 3 out of 4.
With 2 minutes to go in the first quarter, Archmere held a 13 – 6 lead as the Riders look uncomfortable at best at the offensive end.
After a strong defense stand, the Riders #34 Messiah Antwi secured an offensive rebound with two seconds to go and quickly put it back up and scored at the buzzer to put CR within 3. 13-10 at the end of the quarter, which ended up being the last time Archmere would hold a lead in the game.
Despite Archmere’s offensive patience, the 2-2-1 zone press that the Riders put on at the beginning of the 2nd quarter appeared to disrupt any flow the Auks had established in the first.
The Riders success defensively translated to more and more quality offensive possessions in which they knocked down a number of 3-point shots while Messiah Antwi’s presence around the basket went unchallenged as he scored with his back to the basket and on a number of put-backs after securing an offensive rebound.
Caesar Rodney finished the half on an 11-2 run to finish the half up 31-17 with the discipline and toughness of the Rider defense the story of the first half.
CR carried their defensive success through the third quarter.
Their defensive intensity made it almost impossible for Archmere to get a clean look at the basket as the Auks turned the ball over without even attempting a shot on about half their possessions. The Riders turned most of these mistakes into easy fast break points as they shared the ball and found the open shooters in transition.
The biggest lead of the game came with 2 minutes to go in the third as CR extended their lead to 41-21 until the Auks were able to score two baskets in the last 60 seconds.
The Riders kept the pressure on the Auks as the 4th quarter began.
The 2-2-1 press back into a solid 2-3 zone defense left Archmere looking for answers offensively.
The Archmere struggles were not for a lack of effort though. The home team played hard at both ends and despite being down by 21 with 6 minutes to go worked hard at both ends of the court, diving for loose balls and battling for rebounds under the basket.
The 4th quarter ended up playing out much like the previous two quarters did with the Riders forcing turnovers and subsequently knocking down high percentage shots without much interference.
The game ended 57-33 with Caesar Rodney looking well coached and ready to take on Sanford Thursday evening, 7pm at Sanford.
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