Smyrna’s Jaymeir Garnett finished off an offensive rebound with a layup in overtime to put his team ahead for good in a 77-71 win at Caesar Rodney Tuesday night.
Caesar Rodney came out on fire, with junior Shaft Clark scoring 12 points in the opening quarter, including a pair of three-pointers, as they stretched the lead to 20-12.
Jaden Corbett and Najee Watson then connected on three-pointers midway through the second quarter, as the Riders swelled the lead to 36-21 with 2:00 to go before halftime on Dajuan Williams’ drive through traffic.
Smyrna responded like the defending state champions they are, scoring the next 7 points, including Caleb Matthews’ fast-break basket, but Davione Robinson’s putback at the buzzer allowed the Riders to take a double-digit lead into halftime.
The Eagles sowed the seeds for the comeback in the third quarter, as they forced seven Caesar Rodney fouls, and slowly worked back into the gameon Greg Bloodsworth’s floater and Nahshon Sylvester’s floater. They would be down just 51-49 going into the final regulation frame.
Caesar Rodney kept answering Smyrna’s punches, maintaining the lead until there was 2:00 left, when Caleb Matthews’ three-pointer put the Eagles up 67-66.
Following a CR turnover, Nalik Veasley converted a basket while being fouled, but a missed free throw kept it a one-posession game.
Tim Spence hit a basket, and then Clark connected on a free throw, but a missed second opportunity gave the Eagles a chance to win in regulation.
Smyrna missed four shots within 5 feet of the basket as the clock slowly ticked to zero, bringing the game to overtime at 69-69.
Corbett scored first in the extra session for CR as he slithered his way through the Eagles’ defense, but those would be the final points on the night for the hosts.
Matthews’ drive next time up the floor tied the game, and then Garnett put the Eagles ahead for good with a putback with 1:45 left.
Bloodsworth and Matthews then each went 2-for-2 at the line, and time expired on Caesar Rodney’s hope for the upset.
Garnett scored 24 points to lead Smyrna (8-1, 5-0 Henlopen North), who also picked up 22 points from Bloodsworth and 21 from Garnett. The rest of the Eagles scored just 10 points.
Robinson led CR (5-1, 3-1 North) with 22 points, with Shaft Clark adding 17. The Riders are slated to play at Milford on Friday at 6:15 in a rescheduled game from Thursday.