The Dover High School boys basketball team just saw its 10-game win streak come to an end with a loss to Smyrna. With their recent string of success, though, the Senators are looking to surprise a lot of teams in the state tournament.
A 10-game win streak seemed almost unthinkable two months ago for the Dover High School boys basketball team.
The Senators were struggling to win any game, much less several games in a row, as they started the season with a 4-6 record, reaching the near halfway point two games below .500.
But that all changed Jan. 16 when the Sens put together a solid 68-55 win over Woodbridge and went on a 10-game tear that included wins over all conference foes, including a team that many consider to be the best in the state, Caesar Rodney, 59-53.
One of Dover’s emerging young stars, junior co-captain Kendal Williams, said youth played a large part in the inconsistent start, but that being so young has helped the team grow together to get where they are now.
“We’ve been really focusing, playing together as a team,” Williams said. “I think it was a little bit about just getting to know each other a little better. We learned from our mistakes and started making better plays and playing better as a team.”
Despite the recent success, the Senators got a wakeup call this past weekend when they reverted back to their early-season ways and lost to Smyrna, 59-56, Feb. 20.
Corey Crawford, another junior co-captain for Dover and the team’s only starter from last year’s final-four squad, said while as a team you never want to lose, the loss to Smyrna was a humbling experience before the Sens go on to the state tournament.
“This past loss is only going to bring us closer together and help us learn more,” Crawford said.
Throughout the 10-game streak, head coach Stefan Wilson said he tried to keep his team levelheaded which would keep them consistent on the court. With the loss to Smyrna, the coach said his team got a first-hand example of what he meant.
“No matter how many games you win in a row, you’re still only as good as your last game,” Wilson said. “When it came down to crunch time in that game, some things similar to the beginning of the year began to happen.
“We had that opportunity to give ourselves some extra points and get a better seed for the state tournament. We’re going to be OK though.”
The Senators, as the season has progressed, have become a much more defensively responsible basketball team, something Wilson has pushed since day one.
Throughout the win streak, Dover won by an average of 19 points per game, and had only once not reached the 60-point mark in a game.
Williams said even though it seems like the offense is carrying the team, it’s the team defense that has created so many offensive opportunities.
He added that for he and Crawford, their responsibility as co-captains is to make sure their teammates commit to that style of basketball.
“Both of us being captains, if we start playing together, then everyone is going to follow us,” Williams said. “If we’re not getting it done, then the team’s not going to get it done.”
With the tournament one week away, Crawford said he is becoming more active as a captain because he knows he has something his teammates do not — tournament experience.
“I’m just telling them to stay mentally tough,” he said. “I’m telling them, ‘Don’t let the crowd get to you, don’t get down on yourself. Just stay together. When we start separating, we start losing. But if we stay together, we’ll be fine.’”
With the Sens really coming on in the past month, they could be going into states as a possible upset team. That, however, is not how Wilson wants to look at it.
“I know we started out slow but I did think we were going to gel,” he said. “It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. We’re turning the corner at the right time.
“I can’t say enough about how hard this group plays. And I tell them, ‘If you can just leave it all out on the line, then I do believe we can compete for the state championship.’”
Email Brian Citino at firstname.lastname@example.org