It didn’t take very long for Smyrna to bring Sussex Tech back to earth once their second-round matchup in the DIAA Girls Basketball State Tournament got under way Friday.
Eighth-seeded Smyrna exploded out of the box behind solid defense, building up a 33-point lead at halftime, and eventually won, going away 79-39 in the contest between two familiar teams from the Henlopen Conference Northern Division.
Sussex Tech, the tourney’s 24th seed, was coming off a 45-44 upset of No. 9 Padua in the opening round. There was to be no such upset at Smyrna, which had the Ravens overmatched and outgunned.
Junior Taylor Price scored 19 points and senior Brionna Johnson chipped in 15 points for Smyrna (20-2), which has won 12 of its last 13 games. The Eagles defeated Sussex Tech by scores of 62-35 and 64-41 during Henlopen Conference regular-seasonplay.
Senior Kamerra Matthews tallied 13 points and junior Alexus Stroud hit for 10 points for Smyrna, which advances to next Wednesday’s quarterfinal round and will play top-seeded St. Elizabeth at St. Mark’s.
“We have three seniors who aren’t ready for all of this to end,” said Smyrna coach Rachel Woodall of Johnson, Matthews and Shi Hillaird. “They went out there and played really well and executed, and that’s all that really matters.
“We were able to emphasize how much that defense wins the games. So we stepped it up and we didn’t want to do anything too fancy so we just went in there and we played zone – we just didn’t want to overplay anybody. We couldn’t afford to get into foul trouble, so we had to play it safe.”
It became a common theme to see the Ravens turn the ball over and then watch as a Smyrna player went in for an easy layup.
Sussex Tech (10-12), which lost seven of its last 10 games, suffered from 32 turnovers. Those combined to create many easy baskets for the Eagles, who made 51 percent (33 for 65) of their shots from the floor.
Price scored 12 of her points in the first half, all coming on breakaway layups. Smyrna led 20-4 after the first quarter and 44-11 at halftime.
Sophomore Para Washam scored 14 points and junior Castaysha Lewis added eight points for the Ravens, who hit just 32 percent (14 for 44) of their shots from the field.
Sussex Tech coach Chester Davis said his team might have still been thinking about its opening-round win a little too much.
“This is David versus Goliath,” Davis said. “They’re so good, and they shot so well in the first half and we didn’t play very well at all. I think we were still living the Wednesday night deal.”
Woodall now is looking forward to her team’s deal next Wednesday night against perennially powerful St. E. She believes the Eagles are prepared for the tall task.
“It’s going to get a little more challenging, and we’ve got to come ready to compete,” Woodall said.