When the Henlopen North division was at a stalemate at the end of the regular season, a three-way tie between Smyrna, Caesar Rodney, and Sussex Central, whomever came out on top would earn a trip to the Henlopen Conference championship the hard way.
On Thursday night, the Smyrna Eagles overcame a late-game deficit after seeing an early lead disappear to defeat the Lady Riders 63-55 and earn a date with the Milford Bucs on Saturday afternoon with the conference crown at stake.
Four Lady Eagles finished in double-figures in Thursday’s win, Alyson Davis leading the way with 16 points. Alexus Stroud finished with 15, Taylor Price added 13, and Melena Credle contributed 10 in the victory.
Smyrna started the game off with a bang, outscoring CR 16-6 in the opening quarter to take command early. However, the Riders would catch fire in the second to trail by just a point at the break.
In the second half, the Rider offense led by Lexi Prillaman who finished with a game-high 19 points continued to ride the momentum they gained to end the half eventually building a small lead heading toward the final stanza.
Trailing by six with time running down, the Lady Eagles used some timely turnovers to go on a 14-0 lead late to take the lead for good.
It’s been a long road for Smyrna who had to defeat Sussex Tech on the last day of the season just to force a playoff against Sussex Central to earn a chance at the Riders to play for the division.
The win gives the Lady Eagles an automatic bid in the state tournament, but for now they’ll try to focus on defeating Milford on Saturday afternoon for the conference title. Smyrna will take on Milford at Polytech high school on Saturday, February 22 starting at 3:00 p.m.
While the Lady Riders came up short, they will also be joining Smyrna in the state tournament. The seeds for both the boys and girls state brackets are expected to be released on Saturday.