Indians look toward states after Raiders snap win streak
Riding high after a six-game win streak — including five straight on the road — the Indian River High School basketball team found themselves battling for control of the Henlopen South Conference last Monday night against Woodbridge (12-3, 7-2). However after jumping to a 26-22 lead, the Blue Raiders held the Indians to two points in the third quarter, eventually notching a 53-34 win and taking control of their own destiny in the conference.
“That one half doesn’t define us,” said Indians Head Coach Mike Fabber after the Feb. 10 game. “It doesn’t define our season or the run we had. We’re still sitting pretty good for the state tournament. There’s a lot of basketball left to be played.”
“We didn’t play our regular game,” senior forward Jaevon Holland said of the team’s out-of-character second-half performance. “We came out slow. We came out sluggish.”
Senior point guard Brian Arthur led the charge for the Indians early on, continually driving to the rim and putting up eight points in the first quarter. Sophomore guard KiAnté Sturgis would give the Indians their first lead of the night after draining a three-pointer in the same quarter.
Without junior guard Kei Juan Major for the second game in a row, the rotation slowed in the second half, but the team never stopped fighting — and Holland and senior forward London Tucker continued to dominate the boards defensively.
“They’re our engines. Their value is unmeasurable,” Fabber said of Holland’s and Tucker’s performances. “There’s no way I can tell you how important they are and how important their motors are.”
“That’s 20 extra points,” Holland said of Major’s absence. “That’s somebody else that can bring the ball up. That’s somebody else that can get to the rack who can score. That’s somebody else who can find the open man, who can shoot the three. Kei Juan is a big part of the offense.”
After the game, Fabber expressed how proud he was of his team’s season so far, and explained that, not only are they not out of the South race, they are still well set for the state tournament.
“This is the same team that won six in a row,” he said, to put it in perspective. “This is the same team that went to Central and won, went to Laurel and won, beat Laurel at home when no one else could in the conference — then went to Milford and beat Milford. This is that same team.”
While the win will help Woodbridge in the race for the South, the Blue Raiders still face three conference opponents this season, which still gives the Indians a chance at the title.
Right now, however, Fabber is focused on getting the team healthy and winning the next four games left on the schedule. On Presidents Day, the Indians will head to West Ocean City, Md., to face Stephen Decatur at 1:45 p.m. The following night, they’ll be home in their final conference match up, against Seaford at 6:15 p.m.
“No matter what, it’s a special season,” Fabber stressed. “Two years ago, this team was 0-19. We’re battling for first place in the conference and a state championship two years later. Good teams sometimes get out of their flow — what we’re doing is amazing. I’m still very proud of these guys. We fight — that’s what we do. We’re in good shape.”