Smyrna’s Greg Bloodsworth hit 8-straight free throws in the final 55 seconds as the Eagles held off Caesar Rodney 68-57 Friday night.
After defeating C.R. in overtime last month, Smyrna knew they would be in for a challenge, and once again they found themselves in an early hole due to Shaft Clark.
C.R.’s junior set the early tempo, hitting a three-pointer, and then a hook shot off the backboard, pacing the Riders to a 14-9 lead after the opening quarter.
He would add another long-range shot early in the second quarter to stretch the lead to as many as 6, before the Eagles began to strech their wings.
Bloodsworth executed a perfect 2-on-1 with Matthews to set up a layup, and then found the senior with a baseline triple as the buzzer sounded, giving the Eagles a 28-23 halftime lead with their 13-4 run.
Matthews made it a 6-0 run without Caesar Rodney touching the basketball when he opened the second half with another three-pointer.
A double-technical was called with 4:40 to go when a Caesar Rodney player was penalized for an excessive box-out that ended with an elbow, and a 10-3 finish to the quarter gave the Eagles their first double-digit lead of the night at 45-33 going into the final quarter.
Clark hit back-to-back threes midway through the final quarter, helping the Riders get as close as 60-54, but then Bloodsworth took over.
Bloodsworth went to the line four times down the stretch, hitting both free throws in each opportunity, swelling his point total to a team-high 24. He was 11-for-12 in the final quarter.
Matthews and Nalik Veasley each scored 12 points for Smyrna (15-2, 10-1 Henlopen North). They can clinch a share of the division title on Tuesday when they travel to Polytech. They remain tied with Cape Henlopen, who rallied past Sussex Tech last night.
Shaft Clark led all scorers with 26 for Caesar Rodney (11-5, 6-4 North). The Riders host their last four games, including Sussex Tech on Tuesday, and then can do the Eagles a big favor with a win over Cape Henlopen on February 19.