Eagles' 25-game winning streak snapped at Slam Dunk Tournament
Nearing the midway point of the boys high school basketball season, the Henlopen Conference playoff picture is becoming a bit clearer. While there’s still more than half of the season to go, teams are beginning to position themselves for the playoffs, especially in the competitive Henlopen North Division.
Heading into this week’s action, the defending state champion Smyrna Eagles sit atop the division with a 7-1 overall mark and an undefeated 4-0 record against the Henlopen Conference.
Most recently, the Eagles participated in the Slam Dunk to the Beach at Cape Henlopen for the second straight year, going 1-1 in their two games.
Smyrna opened the tournament Dec. 27 with a win on the big stage against in-state opponent Howard, 86-53.
Three Eagles finished in double-figures. Jaymeir Garnett posted 30 points with nine rebounds, five assists, four blocks and two steals. Caleb Matthews posted a triple double with 24 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, and Greg Bloodsworth finished with 10 points.
In their Slam Dunk finale Dec. 28 against standout New Jersey program Roselle Catholic, the Eagles fell 87-69 despite a gutsy effort.
The loss was the first of the season for the Eagles and it snapped the team’s 25-game winning streak stretching back to last season.
Smyrna posted a well-rounded attack with four players finishing in double-figures.Garnett and Nalik Veasley posted double-doubles. Garnett finished with 19 points and 12 rebounds, while Veasley had 14 points and 10 boards. Matthews had another strong offensive game, finishing with 19 points, and Bloodsworth posted 13 points, four assists and two steals.
With the excitement of the Slam Dunk to the Beach now behind them, the Eagles turn their attention to the rest of their regular season schedule.
The season is still young, and five teams are still in contention for Henlopen North title. Along with the defending champion Eagles, other challengers include Caesar Rodney (6-0, 4-0), Cape Henlopen (4-1, 3-1) and Sussex Tech (4-1, 3-1). Also, not to be forgotten, the Dover Senators have won three in a row, improving to 3-3 overall and 2-3 against the conference to remain in the hunt.
The Eagles have some tests ahead. After traveling to Caesar Rodney Jan. 2, they were scheduled to close out this week Friday, Jan. 5, hosting a tough St. Georges Tech team out of the Blue Hen Conference; however, the Jan. 5 game has been postponed.
The Hawks started the season hot, but have since cooled down. After winning their first five games of the season, they’ve dropped two straight heading into this week’s action, losses to William Penn and Caravel Academy.
Down the stretch, Smyrna will play six of the final 10 games at home, including conference matchups against Polytech, Cape Henlopen, Dover, Sussex Tech, Milford and Caesar Rodney. Meanwhile, they’ll travel to Sussex Central and Salesianum before closing out the year with two straight road games at Polytech and William Penn.