One phrase that rings true in athletics is “it’s not how you start but how you finish that counts.” As this year’s high school basketball season nears its end, both the Dover Senators’ boys and girls squads hope a strong finish will help land them in postseason games.
The Dover boys, after a challenging stretch midway through the season, are in the midst of a five-game winning streak. That has catapulted them to an 11-7 record and back to post-season relevance. Meanwhile, the Lady Senators have been playing well since late December. They’re likely fighting for an at-large bid, while rival Caesar Rodney and Sussex Central fight it out for the North Division title.
Coach Stephen Wilson’s boys’ squad has dealt with the ups and downs that come with any young team that’s learning on the fly.
With just one senior on this year’s squad, growing pains were expected. However, now that the season is coming down to the wire, the Senators have seemingly found their footing. Led by several juniors including Jordan Allen, Terrence Woodlin, Isaiah Mowbray, Tre’Vonne Moore, and lone senior Bryan Petit, Dover has won five straight victories since snapping the midseason slump that saw them drop seven of nine games.
“The film didn’t lie, and we weren’t making excuses, we were trying to fix them,” said Wilson of the team’s struggles through the month of January. “We know we have games left and we have to take advantage of the opportunity we have now, not later.”
With two games remaining, one Tuesday against Sussex Central played after press time, and their final regular season game Thursday against rival Caesar Rodney, the Senators have little room for error.
On a positive note, Dover will likely be favored in both games as the Golden Knights have failed to build consistency this season. They are sitting at 4-15, while the Riders have had a down year sporting a record of 7-10.
Two more wins will give Dover a final record of 13-7, which should be good enough to get the Senators into the postseason. Better yet, the Senators would enter the playoffs red-hot with few teams excited to line up against them in the opening round.
The Lady Senators’ playoff scenario is a more certain than their male counterparts. The Dover girls have lost just once since late December, winning 12 of 13 games.
Unfortunately, their record against the top two teams in the Henlopen North Division, Caesar Rodney and Sussex Central, is 0-3 with one more matchup against the Golden Knights. Their struggles against CR and Central likely put them out of the divisional conversation, but at 13-4 Dover has all but locked up a playoff spot.
Like the boys, the Lady Senators have just one senior on the squad this season, Alexis Heath, who has carried the torch all season long. Joining Heath are key contributors, juniors Pashence Harris and Reeva Jackson, along with sophomores Ja’Quela Dyer and Kyra Moore.
The Lady Senators’ run this season is even more remarkable when taking into account how they started. Dover began the year losing three of their first four games before going on an 11-game winning streak. It was broken by Caesar Rodney last week. Dover bounced back immediately with a seven-point victory over a talented Mt. Pleasant team.
At the beginning of the season head coach Katie Byrnes had high hopes for her squad, expecting the team to contend among the Henlopen Conference elite. While the division title may be out of reach, the Lady Senators have more than held their own, and they’re excited about the next chapter that could start for them when the postseason opens on March 3.
“We’ve been working hard and creating a fast-paced type of game,” Byrnes said. “We are excited about this season and ready for a high level of competition.”