In a defensive battle, the Eagles pulled away in the second half for a 51-32 win in the semifinals at the University of Delaware
The Smyrna High School boys basketball team is heading to the state championship game.
The Eagles defeated St. Georges Tech, 51-32, in the semifinals of the boys basketball tournament tonight at the University of Delaware’s Bob Carpenter Center.
Smyrna, seeded No. 4, had never played in the state semifinals, while No. 9 St. Georges Tech had advanced all the way to the state title game last year and in 2014 but lost both times.
Three Eagles, Jaymeir Garnett, Caleb Matthews and Azubuike Nwankwo, finished in double-figures to lead the way for Smyrna.
In the first quarter, St. Georges Tech built a 9-4 lead before Smyrna stormed back to tie the score 11-11 at the end of the period.
After a sluggish start by both teams in the second quarter, the Eagles started hitting their shots as halftime approached and took a six-point lead at the break after Zion Cole’s three pointer.
Smyrna led 24-18 at halftime, led by Garnett who had 10 points in the first half on 5-of-11 shooting to go along with seven rebounds. Nwankwo was a terror on the boards, bringing down nine total rebounds along with three blocks.
In the third quarter, Smyrna opened up as much as a 13-point lead at 33-20 before St. Georges closed the gap to 33-25. Then Garnett stole the ball and sank a shot to give the Eagles a 35-25 advantage at the end of the quarter.
The Hawks fought back in the fourth quarter and closed the gap to 36-30 with 4:10 to play.
But Smyrna’s Anthony Watson nailed a three-pointer to give the Eagles a 39-30 edge. Then Zubui Nwankwo hit a free throw and a basket, and Garnett scored to put Smyrna up 44-30 with 1:45 left to play.
The Eagles hit their free throws down the stretch and pulled away for a 51-32 victory.
Smyrna, which improved to 22-2, received a first-round bye in the tournament, then beat No. 12 Milford in the second round and defeated No. 4 Woodbridge in the quarterfinals to advance to the semifinals.
Now the Eagles will face the Cinderella story of the tournament, No. 19 Caravel Academy, in the state title game Saturday, March 11 at 1 p.m., also at the Bob Carpenter Center.
For tickets, go to statechamps.com/DIAA
Garnett led the way with a team-high 16 points on 8-of-17 shooting to go along with 12 total rebounds.
Matthews ended the night with 12 points, going 4-for-9 from the field while adding seven rebounds and six assists for the Eagles.
Nwankwo finished the night with 11 points, shooting 50 percent from the field. He also added a game 15 rebounds.
Smyrna’s defense kept Hawk’s standout Kyson Rawls to just four points on 1-of-12 shooting from the field.
Nah’Shon Hyland led the way for St. Georges Tech, scoring a team-high 16 points including two three pointers.
The Hawks advanced to the semifinals by defeating No. 24 Wilmington Friends in the first round, beat No. 8 Glasgow in the second round and upset No. 1 Mt. Pleasant in the quarterfinals.