The boys basketball teams from Caesar Rodney and Cape Henlopen battled for 36 frenzied minutes on Friday night.
But the deciding factor came when the game was stopped, and players were standing unguarded 15 feet from the basket.
The Riders hit 8 of 10 free throws in overtime. The Vikings made only 2 of 8, and that made the difference as Caesar Rodney gradually pulled away in the extra period for a 63-55 victory.
“We were able to keep battling through when we got down,” CR coach Freeman Williams said. “When we called timeout, the kids were listening to exactly what we wanted them to do. We got some key stops, and it came down to us being able to make some free throws down the stretch.”
The fourth-ranked Riders (7-1, 3-1 Henlopen North) were playing at home for the first time since Dec. 6, when they won their season opener against Smyrna. Collin Moore, who pumped in a game-high 25 points for CR, was happy to be back.
“We were ready to play tonight. We were back in front of our home crowd,” Moore said. “People don’t know that we had six straight road games. We were so happy to be back on this home floor. … The crowd just lifted us up.”
Neither team led by more than four points through the third and fourth quarters. The lead changed hands seven times in the second half, including twice in the final 1:10 of regulation.
Antwan Miller’s layup off an inbounds play gave the Riders a 53-51 lead with 7.2 seconds to play. Cape’s Jon Warren calmly dropped two free throws to tie it with 4.5 seconds to go, and a 3-point attempt by Moore missed at the buzzer to send it into overtime.
Moore’s score off his own miss was the only field goal in the extra period, giving CR a 55-54 lead with 3:08 left. It was all free throws after that, and Moore hit 3 of 4 while the Vikings missed four straight to push CR’s margin to 58-54 with 1:06 left.
Riders point guard Alex Kemp, who had not scored to that point, went 4 for 4 from the line in the final 29 seconds to seal the win.
“The whole time I’m telling myself, ‘I’m making them. I’m not going to miss,'” Kemp said.
Cape (5-4, 4-1) got 19 points from Warren and 16 from Tyreik Burton. But the Vikings missed a chance to take command of the Henlopen North race.
“It was back and forth the whole time. It was close the whole time,” Cape coach Stephen Re said. “And then there were a couple of mistakes in the last minute, and they responded better than we did.”