IR boys win Governor’s Challenge Tournament’s A bracket

Date Published: 
January 5, 2018

It only took two wins for Indian River High School’s varsity boys’ basketball team to be crowned Division A champions at the largest high school boys’ and girls’ basketball holiday tournament in the country — the Governor’s Challenge High School Basketball Ball Tournament — last week, Dec. 26-30.

Special to the Coastal Point • Bruce Walls: Ja’Shaun Johnson, above, goes up for two against a Carver defender during the Governor’s Challenge Tournament.Special to the Coastal Point • Bruce Walls: Ja’Shaun Johnson, above, goes up for two against a Carver defender during the Governor’s Challenge Tournament.What began as friendly basketball competition between teams from Delaware and Maryland has grown into one of the sport’s marquee tournaments. In early years, the governors wagered pies. Delaware governors would bet a Delaware peach pie against a Maryland Smith Island cake.

This year, 120 teams competed in the 37th annual tournament, held at Salisbury, Md.’s Wicomico Youth & Civic Center, The roster of teams entered in the 37th annual competition included schools from Maryland, Delaware, Washington, D.C., Georgia, the Carolinas, New York, Rhode Island, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Canada.

On Tuesday, the Indians silenced Queen Anne’s, 61-35. IR was the first to score and last to score. At the end of their first eight minutes, IR had a narrow 11-9 lead. IR’s defense limited Queen Anne’s County shooters to a three-pointer late in the second period, while their offense bucketed 14-points. IR took a 28-13 lead at halftime. IR poured in 17 more points in the third quarter and 16 in the last eight minutes.

“They’re now seeing two victories in a row, and we’re trying to get something going here for this year,” said IR head coach B.J. Joseph.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Indians faced the Lions of Carver Vocational-Technical High School, for the championship. IR started out with a single foul shot and went on to beat the Baltimore-based Lions 68-59 in a game that was played at Wicomico County High School’s gym.

The Indians owned a 17-8 lead at the end of the first period. IR shooters grew that lead to 34-20 at mid-point. From there, they held a 10-point lead through the final quarter.

“It was a little closer in the last four minutes than I wanted. We’re still a young team, and we’re learning to win,” Joseph said of their second win of the tournament. “We had three losses that should have been wins, and we would have been seven or eight wins instead of four or five. We seemed to be a little more aggressive on offense, getting the ball to the hole.”

After a short break, the Indians were set to return to Henlopen Conference competition on Jan. 3 (after Coastal Point press time), with the 5-4 Indians paying a visit to Sussex Academy in Georgetown. They’ll follow that with a double-header with the girls’ team at 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 5 at Cape Henlopen High School before taking on Milford and Lake Forest on Jan. 9 and Jan. 11, respectively. Both of those home games will start at 6:15 p.m.