Trojans tip off tonight at home in playoff opener

WORTON — It wasn’t the Trojans’ best basketball of the season — coach Sobaye Scott says that was the 65-63 come-from-behind thriller against North Caroline at the end of January — but it was darn close.

Kent County spotted visiting North Dorchester the first 11 points before pulling ahead at intermission, 32-31, and erupted for more than 50 points in the second half on the way to a commanding 86-60 victory in the regular-season finale Feb. 15.

The Trojans, who halted a four-game losing streak, secured a first-round home game in the Class 1A East Region tournament that begins today.

Kent County (6-13) will host St. Michaels (6-14). Tip-off is at 5 p.m.

This is an opportunity for the Trojans to avenge a 56-46 loss at St. Michaels on Feb. 1 — which is still a bit of a head-scratcher given their 72-43 win here Jan. 4 in the first game of the home-and-away series.

“I know we’re better than our record,” Scott said in a telephone interview Sunday, Feb. 25. 

The aim is to prove it.

In the regular-season finale two weeks ago, North Dorchester (1-19) raced out to an 11-0 lead on Jamar Williams’ 3-pointer 4 minutes, 19 seconds into the game.

Thirty-nine seconds later, JySir Valentine, the Trojans’ 6-foot-5, 230-pound “big,” drained a pair of free throws after being fouled on a drive in the paint to put the hosts on the scoreboard. 

Valentine would score four more points, senior Larry Steward would finish off a fastbreak with a dunk and freshman Dwan Harris hit the front end of a two-shot foul to bring the first quarter score to Kent County 9, North Dorchester 17.

The Trojans would play the remainder of the half with Steward on the bench; he went out with his second foul with 1:12 still to play in the opening frame, having scored only two points.

Sparked by sophomore guard Rah Zir Wilson’s nine points, the Trojans closed out the half on a 23-14 run for their first lead, 32-31, on Valentine’s buzzer-beater. Harris passed on a short jumper and dumped the ball to Valentine cutting along the baseline as the better option.

Back-to-back 3-point plays from Valentine sparked KCHS’ early 9-2 run in the second half, extending the spread to 41-33 with 2:27 elapsed.

Steward, who was back on the court to start the second half, completed a traditional three-point play to spark a run of nine unanswered points — including consecutive threes from Jonah Somerville and Wilson — to increase the lead to 50-35 with 3:49 remaining in the third quarter, prompting North Dorchester to call a time-out.

On the restart, Williams completed a three-point play of his own, which was negated when Valentine and junior varsity call-up Gavin Miller collectively scored the next five points.

Steward’s two-handed dunk off a backdoor pass from Harris brought the partisan crowd to its feet with 1:28 remaining in the third quarter. Steward scored once more before quarter’s end to restore the 15-point lead, 60-45.

The Trojans owned the final eight minutes.

Somerville 3-pointers bookended an 8-0 run that stretched the lead to 72-49 with 5:09 to play.

State champion high jumper Steward had another two-handed jam off a fastbreak with 1:41 remaining — this one highlight reel-worthy as on a fastbreak he trailed Miller, who banked a pass off the glass — and a three-point play with 20.8 seconds to go to finish off the night.

Steward totaled 19 points, 17 of those coming in the second half.

Valentine led all players with 27 points.

Wilson and Somerville also scored in double digits, 13 and 11 points, respectively.

Miller and Harris each contributed seven points, and Nasir Black made up the balance as the Trojans scored a season-high 86 points.

Williams with 26 points led three Eagles in double figures. 

In Sunday’s interview, coach Scott said the Feb. 15 victory was “a preview of what’s in store” for the upcoming playoffs.

Scott was alluding to the addition of sophomore guard Gavin Miller and three other jayvee call-ups — small forwards Kiyan Hynson and Zayvion Brown and guard RJ Peterson, all sophomores.

“They give us a little depth. They can score. They have been in the system,” he said.

Scott said intrasquad scrimmages during weeks and weeks of practice, when the junior varsity and varsity players shared the gym, should prove to be beneficial at this juncture in the season. He believes the call-ups “will be up to the task.”

The winner of the Kent-St. Michaels game will travel to Perryville (14-5) for a second-round game Thursday, Feb. 29.


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