With a few weeks left in the season, the basketball playoff picture is becoming clearer.
The Dover Senators enter the stretch looking to secure a divisional title, with an eye on a possible No. 1 seed in the DIAA boys basketball tournament.
On Thursday, the Senators will face the Middletown Cavaliers in an out-of-conference matchup and a bit of a state tournament warmup against an unfamiliar opponent.
The Senators have been the class leader of not only the Henlopen Conference, but the state. Winners of their first 16 games, Dover has the honor of being the final unbeaten team remaining statewide.
Head coach Stephen Wilson continues to be impressed by what his team has done, especially lately.
“The way they have been responding to all the success and the number of wins they have compiled. The way they are business-like in games and practice. The way they get along as a collective group and what they expect from the new guys,” have all been impressive Wilson said.
Dover has backed up their record with examples of that dominance throughout the season, and all but two of their victories were by double digits.
Led by the junior guard duo of Elijah Allen and Eden Davis, along with a deep and talented roster of seniors and juniors, the Senators average over 70 points per game, second in the state only to Milford which averages 74 points.
The Senators are well on their way toward a Henlopen North title. So far, they’ve already swept Caesar Rodney, Smyrna, Sussex Central and Sussex Tech, and tallied their first wins over Cape Henlopen and Polytech.
“We take it game by game,” Wilson said. “We want to continue to get, as we say, 2 percent better every day. We know we have a lot of work to do so we work every day to play the Dover basketball way. Our goals are still alive. We also know there is a lot of basketball still to be played.”
The Middletown Cavaliers, meanwhile, are looking to get back in the Blue Hen Flight A race.
Middletown started the season as one of the surprise teams, winning six of their first seven games. However, since the hot start, they’ve cooled down dramatically, losing their last four games.
The Cavaliers could be a dangerous opponent with their backs against the wall late in the season. Middletown head coach Chuck Robinson says his team’s best trait is togetherness, which he believes will be a big turnaround factor, starting against the Senators.
“They’ve embraced the fact of setting a standard and enjoying the process of getting better each time they step on the court,” Robinson said. “They really get along and genuinely care about one another.”
Knowing the challenges ahead, Dover is ready.
“We believe we will see everyone’s best game,” Wilson said. “We’re now being hunted, but our mentality hasn’t changed, we’re still looking to hunt down our opponent.”
The Senators and Cavaliers tip off at Dover, Thursday at 5:30 p.m.