GLASGOW – Kevin Burns’ 3-point attempt from the deep left corner may not have been exactly what the Appoquinimink boys basketball team was looking for while clinging to a four-point lead with less than a minute left Thursday night.
But when the sophomore’s shot splashed through the net with 52 seconds remaining, it gave the Jaguars a comfortable cushion on the way to a season-opening, 64-58 victory at Hodgson.
“What I told Kevin about that was, I loved his confidence,” said Brian Hoffses, who was making his debut as Appo’s coach. “The confidence he had to knock that down, I loved that. That’s the type of player Kevin is. He knows what he can do.”
Burns did it, scoring his first points of the game. He added a free throw later as the sixth-ranked Jaguars (1-0) held off the Silver Eagles’ second-half rally in front of a frenzied crowd.
“It was a good win, coming into a hostile environment like this with the other team’s crowd really into it,” Hoffses said. “They were fired up and they tried to get under our skin, and we kept our poise. Our guys stayed cool, calm and collected.”
Seton Hall signee Myles Cale came out of the gate with 25 points and nine rebounds to start his senior season. Cale scored 12 in the first half as Appo hit 44.8 percent from the field on the way to a 33-20 halftime lead.
“We were playing as a team, looking for each other, not being selfish,” Cale said. “We were passing it, just doing everything right.”
The eighth-ranked Silver Eagles (1-1) got back in it with defense. Hodgson trailed 42-27 with 4:53 left in the third quarter, then scored 14 of the next 16 points.
Dawson Grinnage scored on a rebound, powered in for a layup and fed L.J. Stansbury for an easy bucket. Then Stansbury stoked the crowd with a breakaway dunk, Nasir Galloway drove for a layup and Keenan Williams converted off a steal to pull the Silver Eagles within 44-41 with 29 seconds left in the quarter.
“When you’re attacking them a little bit, it’s just a different mindset,” said Ed Sobocinski, returning as Hodgson’s coach after a two-year hiatus. “It was good for us, once we started attacking.”
Grinnage started the fourth quarter with a 3-point play to get the Silver Eagles within 46-44. But that was as close as they could get as the Jaguars gained some breathing room with a 7-2 run. Cale started it with a dunk, and Keith DeLoatch drove for two layups to push Appo back up 58-50 with 2:23 remaining.
“We just got lazy,” Cale said. “We were up by 15 so we just got a little comfortable. We had to rethink and get ourselves right.”
Hodgson put together another run, but Burns’ 3-ball put the Jaguars up seven and clinched it.
“We got away from our offense, but it was our defense the whole game that really kept them at bay,” Hoffses said. “When we would dig in and they would have those long possessions, we just stuck with them and didn’t let them get any easy hoops.”
DeLoatch, Darrell Jenkins and Maxwell Somelofske each added 10 points for Appo. Stansbury scored 21 for the Silver Eagles, while Grinnage had 14 and Williams chipped in 11.
“We fought back,” Sobocinski said. “We played very poorly in the first half and the beginning of the third quarter, but just with energy and fight, we fought back. So I’m very proud of them for that.”
Contact Brad Myers at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter: @BradMyersTNJ