Dover basketball Dorell Little dribbles down court against Middletown in the DIAA semi final photo courtesy of Ben Fulton

Dover and Salesianum advance to state championship

Glenn FrazerHeadlines, Sports

Dover basketball Dorell Little dribbles down court against Middletown in the DIAA semi final photo courtesy of Ben Fulton scaled

Dover basketball Dorell Little dribbles down court against Middletown in the DIAA semi final, photo courtesy of Ben Fulton

(Newark)      The second seeded Dover Senators and fourth seed Salesianum advanced to the boys basketball final with wins Thursday night at a “sold out” Bob Carpenter Center. For The defending state champion Sals, it will be the third straight appearance in the final. They fell to Tower Hill two years ago and won the school’s third title last season versus William Penn. 

The Sals and top seed St Elizabeth were scoreless through the opening 4:10 of their semifinal game before Justin Hinds drained a three-point shot. It was a harbinger of things to come as Salesianum made 8 of 14 shots beyond the arc for an impressive 57% success ratio. In fact the Sals shot a better percentage from long range than they did from the floor (41%). 

Salesianum held a first quarter lead of 14-8 and also held the Vikings leading scorer (Aiden Tobiason) without a point until midway through the second quarter. When Tobiason finally got on the board it ignited a 13-2 run for St-E to finish the half and take a 29-27 advantage into the locker room. The final points of the half came on a Tobiason three pointer just before the buzzer.

A competitive third quarter featured outstanding shooting by both teams. The Vikings and Sals combined to go a perfect 18 for 18 from the foul line for the game until the 2:09 mark. Through three quarters the two combined to “nail” 20 of 22 free throws. Salesianum continued its torrid long range efficiency connecting on 6 of 8 three pointers until late in the third frame, giving them a 45-40 lead entering the final 8:00 minutes of the contest.

Salsianum basketball Justin Hinds attempts a latup in their win over St Elizabeth DIAA semi final photo courtesy of Nick Halliday scaled

Salsianum basketball Justin Hinds attempts a latup in their win over St Elizabeth DIAA semi final, photo courtesy of Nick Halliday

The fourth quarter belonged to Sallies as Isaiah Hynson scored five straight points before Kareem Thomas connected on a corner “three” to put his team up by 11. Salesianum was never threatened the rest of the way, securing a semifinal win of 65-51. Thomas led the way with 24 points (19 in the second half alone), going 3 for 4 beyond the arc and making 11 of 13 foul shots. R-J Johnson was a “force” in the paint scoring 16 points and pulling down 10 rebounds. Hynson contributed 13 points, while Hinds added 10 more and grabbed 8 rebounds. 

Tobiason finished the game with 19 points and 5 “boards”, and Steven Nixon also scored in double figures with 12 to go along with 9 rebounds and 3 assists for the Vikings. 

In the other semifinal, Dover defeated Middletown 59-53. The Senators and Cavaliers were tied at 8-8 before Dover went on a run of 7-0 to close out the opening quarter. The fast-paced game saw the two trade baskets in the second quarter as Dover took a lead of 27-22 at the half.

Middletown made a nice run to start the second half. Eric Mathenge scored on a “nifty” layup and the Cavs held the advantage at 35-33 with 2:24 to go in the third. However, the Senators had an answer, going on a 9-0 run highlighted by a JayVion Denis “three” point make as Dover held a four point lead going into the final 8:00. Middletown’s Mathenge nailed a long range jumper with :22 left to pull the Cavs within striking distance at 42-28.

Middletown’s Jack Murdaugh made a “deep” three to start the fourth quarter and the Cavaliers were down by a single point at 42-41. Dover responded with baskets from Denim Perkins and Dorrel Little and with under 5:00 to go the lead was 46-42. That is as close as the Cavs would get. Dover extended the lead to ten points over the next :90 seconds as Perkins stole the ball and made a breakaway layup. That was followed by a “drive and dish” by Dorrel Little to his brother Chase for a basket, and seconds later, Chase grabbed an offensive rebound and “put-back” to put Dover up 52-42. The Cavaliers closed the game on a Zion Mifflin three pointer at the buzzer, but it was too little – too late as Dover advanced to the title game with a 59-53 victory.

Three players scored in double figures for Dover as Dorrel Little finished with 16 and 4 steals, Denim Perkins had 12 points and 10 assists, while JayVion Denis added 13 points and 7 rebounds. Coach Stephen Wilson will take the Senators to the championship game for the third time in his 16th season. Dover is seeking the school’s first title.

Middletown closed out a very good season under coach Azeez Ali. Zion Mifflin led the Cavs with 15 points, while Aviyon Matthews added 9 points with 11 rebounds, and 4 assists. Amazingly, Aviyon played almost the entire game in foul trouble as he committed 3 personals early and did not pick up his fourth until late in the game. 

The DIAA boys basketball championship game is scheduled to tip at 6:00 Saturday night at the “Bob”, preceded by the Unified game between Dover and Caesar Rodney at noon, and the girls title game between Caravel and Ursuline at 2:00.

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