Howard Basketball player Rahsaan Matthews Jr drives against Hodgson player Aaron Cox photo by Nick Halliday

Battle of Top 10 Howard, Appo does not disappoint

Glenn FrazerHeadlines, Sports

Howard Basketball player Rahsaan Matthews Jr drives against Hodgson player Aaron Cox photo by Nick Halliday

Howard Basketball player Rahsaan Matthews Jr drives against Hodgson player Aaron Cox, photo by Nick Halliday

A large crowd was on hand Tuesday night in Wilmington as Howard High School honored its undefeated 1973 state championship boys basketball team on the 50th anniversary of the lofty achievement. What better way to honor those players than to have the 3rd ranked 2023 Wildcats come from nine points down in the second half to pull out a 53-47 win over 6th ranked Appoquinimink.

The two teams featured “smothering” defense as Howard took a 25-18 lead at the half. The Wildcats held a 10-point lead at 22-12 with less than two minutes to go in the second quarter. The Jags used a 6-0 run to get within 22-18 but junior guard Robert Kelly nailed a left-wing three pointer to beat the buzzer, giving Howard the seven point advantage at the break. 

Then came the celebration for the ’73 Howard team that became the 1st in Delaware to go unbeaten and win a state title going 24-0 with a 75-67 championship win over rival Wilmington High. The team that featured 6’1” starting center Mike Miller, 6’3″ forward Lonnie Sparrow, 6’1″ Eric Fuller, and guards Kenny Hynson and David Roane as well as Wayne Parson, Istavan Norwood, Lemuel Glover, and Rich Miles just to name a few of the players that were coached by the late Jay Thomas.

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Photo courtesy of Urban Youth Inc

Following the halftime celebration, Coach Tom Purse and his Appo squad opened the 3rd quarter on a 10-0 run to grab a 28-25 lead just 2:30 into the period. The Jags eventually outscored Howard 19-6 in the 3rd to go up 37-31 with 8:00 left in the game. However, like a “tale-of-two-quarters’ ‘, Howard coach Rahsaan Matthews, Sr. amped up the defense. Junior guard Jameer DeShields drained a shot from downtown to tie the game midway through the fourth and fuel the Wildcat’s furious rally. With 2:40 left in the game, Ty’leir Scruggs “calmly” converted two free throws to give the ‘Cats a 48-44 advantage. Howard would score the next 5 points to go up by 9 at 53-44 to seal the win. Appo senior guard Christian Barksdale made a long range shot at the buzzer, but it was “too little – too late” for the Jags as they lost for the 1st time this season to an in-state opponent.

The 3rd ranked Wildcats improved to 5-1 while the 6th ranked Jags fell to 7-2. Howard was led by DeShields with 12 points and 9 rebounds. Junior guard Rahsaan Matthews added 9 boards and 11 points, while Xavier Richards-Powell had 5 blocked shots.

Appo received a game-high 13 points from Barksdale, while Haj Bell and Eric Methang each scored nine points. Next up for the Jags will be a date with cross-town rival and 2nd ranked Middletown on the 17th.

Howard will face Glasgow and Sanford over the next week before heading to Florida for games against Miami Northwestern and Dade Christian the 20th and 21st as part of the “Northeast -vs- South Showcase”.

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