The Smyrna High School boys basketball team pulled away from a fourth-quarter challenge by St. Elizabeth and won 65-49 tonight, Feb. 9, in Smyrna.
The Eagles are ranked #1 in the state by The News Journal, while the Vikings are ranked #10.
Smyrna led 43-35 after the third quarter, but St. Elizabeth made a run in the final period, hitting a free throw, missing the second, but grabbing the rebound and nailing a three-pointer.
Then the Eagles responded, building the lead back to eight with 3:18 left in the game and extending it to 53-42 on a three-pointer by Anthony Watson.
The Vikings hit a three-pointer of their own, but Smyrna's Caleb Matthews hit a running shot in the lane for the Eagles. Then after a Vikings' basket, Watson drained another three-pointer for Smyrna for a 58-47 cushion with 1:04 to play.
St. Elizabeth started fouling to stop the clock, but the Eagles knocked down their free throws, and Zubui Nwankwo capped the 16-point victory with a dunk in the closing seconds. Nwankwo also blocked seven shots in the game.
Smyrna head coach Andrew Mears said the key to the win was the players remaining calm when the score got close and making their free throws in crunch time.
"St. Elizabeth has a high-quality team and we knew this was going to be a tough game, but we kept our composure," said Mears. "The sign of a good team is when you're able to put the game away and hit your free throws when the pressure is on, and that's what we were able to do tonight."
Caleb Matthews led the Eagles with 18 points including four 3-pointers. Jaymeir Garnett scored 15. Watson and Iyair Hinson-Purnell each poured in 10. Nwankwo scored nine. Akeem Ferrell had two, and Zion Cole added a free throw.
With the victory, the Eagles improved to 15-2.
NEXT GAME: Smyrna will have the chance to clinch the Henlopen Conference Northern Division title at home on Wednesday, Feb. 15 with a win over second-place Cape Henlopen. Game time is 7:15 p.m.