LEWES – Abby E’Nama is Cape Henlopen’s only senior, the only one whose high school basketball career could have ended Tuesday night.
E’Nama made sure that didn’t happen, blocking Mount Pleasant’s final shot to preserve a 38-35 home victory in the opening round of the DIAA Girls Basketball Tournament.
“I saw her coming, and defense has always been my key,” E’Nama said. “So I just went for the ball, hoping that I got some of it. I ended up getting most of it, so that was good.”
E’Nama finished with nine points, six rebounds and five blocks as the 13th-seeded Vikings (13-8) advanced to a second-round game at fourth-seeded Sanford on Thursday night.
“Abby showed her senior leadership in that second half,” Cape coach Lauren Carra said. “She was getting bumped all over the floor. She had huge rebounds, huge blocked shots, and she had a couple fall for her at the offensive end.”
Junior Sydney Pedersen led the Vikings with 20 points, nailing four 3-pointers and hitting both ends of a one-and-one with 5.6 seconds remaining to stretch Cape’s lead to three.
“That’s a kid that I am so proud of tonight,” Carra said of Pedersen. “She’s had an up-and-down year with her shot, and she found it. And what a time to find her shot.”
Three of Pedersen’s 3-balls came in the first half, and E’Nama hit a short jumper to send Cape into the locker room with a 24-17 lead. But the 20th-seeded Green Knights (12-9) turned up the defensive pressure, and Aniyah Green’s layup tied it at 25 with 3:21 left in the third quarter.
The Vikings pushed back out to a 35-30 lead on Mallory Jones’ fast-break layup, only to see Mount Pleasant battle back again. Na’Caia Jackson tied it at 35 with two free throws with 36.4 seconds to go.
Niya Mosley’s free throw gave Cape the lead again with 20.1 seconds left, and Pedersen added two more with 5.6 seconds to play. Then E’Nama, who was battling through a respiratory illness, snuffed the Green Knights’ final chance.
“The adrenaline,” E’Nama said. “First round, my senior year, I just wanted to end my home game on a good note.”
Mount Pleasant got 12 points from Jackson; 11 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks from Zaria Newson; and seven points, eight boards and five blocks from Green.
Carra, a former University of Delaware standout, took over the Vikings last year and saw her young team fall at Sussex Central in the first round of the playoffs. This year, Cape has taken at least one extra step.
“It’s been a building process, to say the least,” Carra said. “But a huge step forward for our program tonight was to get that playoff win, and to get the confidence in these girls that they can keep up with the top 24 teams in the state.”
Contact Brad Myers at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter: @BradMyersTNJ.