The Smyrna High School JV boys basketball team defeated Sussex Tech 46-42 Feb. 19, finishing the season with a 19-1 record.
Head Coach Dontay Black said the close win was a great way to end the season because the team had to fight for the victory.
"Sometimes the hard fought games mean more," Black said.
For the Eagles, the four-point win was a rarity as the team not only finished the season with just one loss but dominated the competition in most games. The Eagles defeated Sussex Central earlier in the season by a 47-point margin; the team beat Lake Forest two weeks later by 31 points.
In total, the JV team won seven games by more than 20 points and five games by more than 10 points. The team had five wins where the score deficit was nine points or less.
For the players, going 19-1 left them with mixed feelings.
Sophomore Jameir Sudler said it was a great accomplishment. Freshman Donte Ritchie said he feels pretty good but is still a little disappointed.
"At the same time we wish we had gone 20-0," Ritchie said.
Coming back from a loss
The Eagles went into the winter break 6-0 but had some tough games ahead. They beat St. Elizabeth 53-28 the first game back but then lost to Dover 74-66 on Jan. 11. The players regrouped and beat Milford 55-32 four days later.
Junior Timer Garnett said the team used the loss to Dover as motivation the rest of the season and it made them hungrier the second time around.
Smyrna came back with a vengeance in their Feb. 1 game against Dover; the Eagles won 61-47 and never looked back. They finished the season with a 12-game win streak.
For Black, the loss to Dover was a blessing in disguise as the players became more focused moving forward.
"The loss was eye opening. You don't want to lose, but without that loss to Dover we don't beat Sallies, we don't win the Cape Henlopen game at the end of the season," Black said. "Losing that game made them mentally tough for the rest of the season."
Finishing the season out
The Eagles were on quite the winning streak towards the end of the season, but winning was made harder with the loss of players Latrelle Lee and Charlie Taylor to the varsity team.
Freshman Boaz Menard said losing two players made everyone else step up more. Freshman Jerry Williams said losing Lee and Taylor also gave other players like himself an opportunity to play more.
Coming into the season, Black said he guessed that the team would only lose a couple of games. The fact that the team lost to Dover but rallied to finish the season 19-1 says a lot about the future of Smyrna basketball, he said.
"The sky is the limit with this group. They are capable of going 20-0 obviously," he said.
Moreover, he said the team's success was a group effort as everyone contributed over the course of the season.
"They are a very good team overall," Black said. "I can't say enough about the whole group."
Email Jennifer Dailey at email@example.com.