GEORGETOWN – Just as head coach Chester Davis hoped to accomplish, the Sussex Tech girls’ basketball squad won’t have to pay to get into the Bob this weekend.
With a 45-35 victory over No. 24 Delaware Military Academy Thursday night, the No. 8 Lady Ravens earned a trip to the DIAA state tournament quarterfinals. Saturday’s match-up with No. 1 Ursuline will be played at the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark.
“We wanted to come out strong. They’re a very good team. Very well disciplined, they move the ball well,” coach Chester said.
Tech did come out of the gate strong, putting up 14 points in the first quarter. DMA, despite playing from behind much of the game, kept up with the Ravens throughout the first three quarters.
Tech went into halftime with a 26-20 lead, extending the lead to 10 points with a pair of baskets from senior guard Rukiya Davis and junior guard Jayla Mullen early in the third quarter.
The Seahawks managed just six third quarter points, but it wasn’t until the fourth quarter when Tech finally began to pull away from DMA.
A three-pointer from Mullen at the 4:35 mark of the fourth started a 9-0 run for Tech. Mullen’s three-pointer, back-to-back lay-ups from sophomore forward Mi’Cah Shelton and a basket from senior guard Taryn Lewis put the Ravens ahead 45-30 with just over two minutes to play.
Despite a rocky last two minutes of basketball, including a 5-0 run for DMA, Tech held on to seal the double-digit victory.
“We didn’t play as well defensively as we would’ve liked, but then we held them to 15 points in the second half,” Coach Chester said. “So we did some things right. We need to finish better, the last minute or so wasn’t what we wanted. We took some ill-advised shots and we seemed to want to pass the ball into traffic rather than the open person.”
“It was great,” assistant coach Justin Davis said of getting the win. “We let it be a little bit more interesting at the end than I would have liked. But it’s great for all our kids. Great for them to get the experience.”
Earlier in the afternoon, just hours before the game, Rukiya Davis had to leave school early because of a 101-degree temperature. The high temp didn’t stop Davis from putting up a team-high 12 points in the second round victory.
Assistant coach Justin Davis said he got a text message at about 1 p.m. Friday saying Rukiya had a high fever. When he contacted Rukiya to see how she was doing, he got a simple reply: “I’ll be fine, I’ll be there.”
Rukiya and Jayla Mullen went on to score 12 points each in the victory.
Shelton, coming off the bench and performing well at the forward position, put up 10 points in the win, including four fourth quarter points.
“Mi’Cah is our secret weapon,” coach Chester said. “She’s Charles Barkley for us. She does the dirty work down under the basket and she finds a way to get that shot up above the rim.”
No. 1 Ursuline has won the state championship the last two years and has won seven state championships since 2004. So, Tech is aware of the challenge sitting in front of them Saturday, March 4.
“It’s like David and Goliath,” coach Chester said. “We’re going to go and play as best as we can, and who knows. Upsets do happen.”
Rukiya’s expectation for Saturday night is simple: “get a win.”
Sports Editor Ben Heck can be reached at email@example.com.