Boys’ basketball: Tech drops first game of the season in Henlopen North showdown

GEORGETOWN – In Tuesday night’s Henlopen North showdown, undefeated Smyrna out-lasted Sussex Tech and pulled away with a 75-61 victory.

But sometimes the final score doesn’t tell the whole story.

The loss drops Tech to 2-1 on the season, but for three quarters of play the Ravens showed everyone they have the ability to keep up with the defending state champion Eagles.

“For the first three quarters we were right where we needed to be at and we were playing hard,” said Tech’s first-year head coach Damon Ayers. “They had some shots that gave them some momentum and once you lose the momentum it’s hard to get it back. They’re the defending state champs, so they’re not going to go down without a fight.”

Senior guard Jaquan Burton put up a team-high 21 points for Tech, including eight in the opening quarter.

Khalil Bolden scored eight of his 15 points in the fourth quarter Tuesday night (Sussex Post/Ben Heck).

“Jaquan put up a good performance. He’s capable of doing it every night,” coach Ayers said. “We just have to get some other guys to step up and contribute in some other areas to help us to be successful. I don’t think we got as much from our bench tonight as we would have liked.”

Sussex Tech trailed 17-12 at the end of the first quarter, but out-scored the Eagles 18-14 in the second quarter. Burton hit a crucial three-point jumper as time expired in the opening half, cutting Smyrna’s lead to just 31-30 at the break.

The high-scoring third quarter featured six lead changes and a total of five three-pointers between the two squads.

Burton hit a three-pointer just 23 seconds into the second half to give Tech its first lead since the 5:32 mark of the first quarter. A minute later, teammate Kamron Williams hit a three-pointer of his own to give the Ravens the lead back, 38-36.

From there, Smyrna would go on a 18-7 run to end the quarter with a 54-45 lead. Senior Caleb Matthews helped sway the momentum in Smyrna’s direction with 12 third-quarter points.

Matthews and Jaymeir Garnett combined for 14 fourth-quarter points to put the game out of reach. The 75-61 victory puts Smyrna at 3-0 on the season.

Tech had three players reach double-digit point totals in the loss. Burton’s 21 led the way, with senior Khalil Bolden adding 15 and sophomore Ricky Kane putting up 10.

Jaquan Burton scored 21 points, including eight of the team’s first 12, in Tuesday night’s loss against Smyrna (Sussex Post/Ben Heck).

“Khalil works hard and fights every night for us, so I’m not surprised by his performance tonight,” said coach Ayers.

Ayers, taking over a Sussex Tech program that went 5-15 last season, is hoping to change the culture of the basketball program this season.

“In the off-season the guys worked really hard, sacrificed their time and summer because they wanted to change the culture of the program and be a competitive team throughout the course of the season,” he said. “So, we’re working towards the goals we set for the season. Pretty good start at 2-1 and now we’re just focused on getting ready for Central.”

The Ravens will hit the court again Friday, Dec. 15 for a showdown with cross-town rival Sussex Central (0-3). Tip-off is slated for 7:15 p.m.

Sports Editor Ben Heck can be reached at bheck@newszap.com.

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