Green Knight’s defense locks-down Yellow Jackets to advance into quarterfinals
In the opening round of the DIAA Boys Basketball State Tournament the 20th seed Newark High Yellowjackets, went on the road to upset the 13th seeded Cape Henlopen Vikings 57-42. That victory set-up a 2nd round date in Penny Hill with two-time defending Blue Hen Conference champion, 4th seeded Mount Pleasant. The Green Knight’s ability to turn defense into instant offense was the difference as they dismissed the Yellowjackets 53-42. Newark relied on playing a box-&-one defensive scheme on Mount Pleasant star, senior #0, Raheim Burnett (10 pts.). Not a bad approach for defending a player who was 1st team all-state his junior season and eclipsed the 1,000 point mark this year. Forcing the rest of the Green Knights to beat you while trying to take Burnett out of the game is the risk Newark Head Coach Shannon McCants optioned to take. The Knights stepped-up and shared offensive duties combined with stingy defense to show once again that they’re a seasoned team with experience and skill throughout their roster.
Mount Pleasant led 12-6 after one quarter, holding Newark scoreless for the last three minutes of the opening quarter. The Yellowjackets finally broke the scoring drought a minute into the second quarter when sophomore guard #14 Michael Drumgo-Sharpe (18 pts.) sunk the last of two free throws. The Green Knights led 17-9 with under two minutes left in the first-half when Newark started to catch fire. Back to back 3-pointers from junior guard #5, Shannon McCants, Jr. (6 pts.) and #14 Drumgo-Sharpe cut the lead down to five 20-15 with 1:45 to go before half. Both teams exchanged buckets and free throws and Mount Pleasant went into halftime leading 24-21.
The third quarter began with both teams ramping-up the intensity, knowing that two quarters is all one team had left in their season. Green Knight freshman forward #33 K’Vonn Cramer (9 pts.) threw-down an alley-oop pass off the back-board from senior guard #5 Rob Myrick (8 pts.) that shook the gym. With the home crowd now on their feet Mount Pleasant began to put Newark away. Sharp-shooting senior guard #1 Sharif Holland (7 pts.) made two magnificent steals back to back taking both in for lay-ups and launched a 30 foot jump shot that found the bottom of the net to give the Green Knights an 8-point lead 39-31 entering the fourth quarter. With the game still within reach for the Yellowjackets, State Player-of-the-Year candidate #0, Burnett, stole the ball three consecutive possessions and converted all three into lay-ups giving the Green Knights that final push they needed to secure victory over Flight-A nemesis Newark. Mount Pleasant will now face 5th seeded Smyrna for the second year in a row, after bouncing the Eagles from last year’s tournament. Newark finishes the season 13-9.
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