After getting knocked out of the first round of the DIAA playoffs by St. Georges Tech last season, the Indian River High School softball team will not only look to get back to the playoffs this year but to push the limits even further and challenge for a state championship.
While the Lady Indians will see a variety of key players returning — including senior shortstop Karlie Smith, senior pitcher Rachel Hudson and senior second-baseman Anamaria Impastato — they’ll have a first-year head coach at the helm in Erika Brittingham.
“We have a young team,” Brittingham explained. “We lost three good players, all starters,” she said of the shift from last year’s roster. “We’re really trying to push the expectations, because we feel that we could have made it much further than we did last year.”
She may be stepping in for last year’s head coach, Chris Megee, who has joined the IRHS baseball team as co-head coach, but Brittingham is already familiar with most of the squad, as she was an assistant coach last year. She also has collegiate experience as a player at Salisbury University and plans to utilize that experience to not only better her players for the upcoming season but to help them as they move on to the collegiate level themselves.
“Keep fighting.” That has been the mantra of the Indian River High School basketball team throughout the entire 2013-2014 season. That mantra never changed, and the team has never faltered from it — even after a 12-0 run by opponents Cape Henlopen early in the second-half in the first round of last week’s DIAA playoffs destroyed the balance of a game that, to that point, the Indians had controlled.
Though IR would never recover from the Vikings’ hot streak and would eventually go on to fall to their Henlopen North rival 72-59, they never stopped fighting.
Senior forward Jaevon “B.B.” Holland and senior forward London Tucker set the tone early on both offense and defense in front of a packed house at Cape Henlopen High School last Tuesday, Feb. 26, locking in a rhythm that the No. 14 ranked Vikings could not manage to figure out.
Up 14-10, Holland held his ground in the paint and managed a crucial block at the end of the first quarter, driving down the court and finding Tucker for the easy basket, to make it 16-10. After the “Sportscenter”-worthy play, the signature chant of Indian River’s No. 1 fan, Queen Bratton — “I like that, do it again!” — sounded out, un-matched, over Cape Henlopen bleachers that had fallen silent. The Indians had a 15-year playoff drought to make up for, and their star seniors were leading the way.
Indian River High School senior forward Jaevon “B.B.” Holland has led the Indians basketball team in virtually every statistical category for the past two seasons. However, he’s also been the team’s leader in a category that’s a little more difficult to measure — sportsmanship.
During the many times that the Indians needed a boost during their program re-defining 2013-2014 season, Holland was typically the one to give it to them — whether it was in the form of an emotionally charged speech, beating on his chest and congratulating his teammates after a big play, or just witnessing his non-stop motor and un-matched determination never falter despite the game’s circumstances.
There wasn’t another player on the court that wanted to win more than Holland, and all he has wanted to do for the past two seasons is lead his team to “The Bob” — the University of Delaware’s Bob Carpenter Center — to contest a state championship.
While he and the Indians fell just short of that goal — getting knocked out of the DIAA playoffs in the first round against Cape Henlopen last week — Holland’s incomparable drive and standout sportsmanship earned him a spot in the Blue-Gold All-Star game, which, somewhat ironically, will be held at “The Bob.”
While his appearance at the UD facility may not be what he originally had in mind, Holland said he is still honored to represent his school and his team in front of players, coaches and fans from all over the state.
“I’m going to just go out there and play my game,” he stated confidently, “and show everybody what they expect.”
The game will be held on Saturday, March 15, at 4 p.m. and will feature a halftime dunk contest, as well as appearances by Philadelphia Eagles Head Coach Chip Kelly and former Delaware Blue-Hen and current WNBA star Elena Delle-Donne. On March 12, all players invited will also get the opportunity to have lunch with Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden and Gov. Jack Markell.
Indian River High School’s head swimming coach, Colin Crandel, had one goal in mind heading into last weekend’s DIAA state championships: he wanted personal bests for all his qualifying swimmers.
“It’s not about winning. It’s about personally winning,” said Crandel regarding the IRHS seniors that he has been training since the first year he started the Sharks youth program. “They might come out second or third, but if they hit their best time — they just won. I’m just really proud of them.”
Not only did the boys’ swim team accomplish that goal last Saturday, March 1, at the finals held at the University of Delaware, but coach Donna Smith and the girls’ team went above and beyond in achieving some goals of their own.
“These kids have made Indian River history,” Smith said to put the fifth year program’s accomplishments in perspective. “[They’re] the first female squad to make it to the finals round.”
Just months after starting the school’s first-ever dance team, the Del Tech Diamonds were put to the test in front of a lively crowd at the University of Delaware on Friday, Feb. 21, performing the halftime show for the Delaware 87ers — a semi-pro basketball team.
Representing southern Sussex County in the show were 2013 Indian River graduate Adriana Alarcón Sosa and Milford-graduate-turned-Selbyville-local Carina Aguilar, who said they “brought it on” in their first-ever live performance.
“We brought it,” Aguilar recalled enthusiastically. “The audience loved us. I was ecstatic to be a part of Del Tech’s dance team.”
“It was an amazing and unforgettable experience,” added Alarcón Sosa. “After we finished our dance, all my girls felt accomplished and proud of how far we came in such little time.”
In the program’s first year, the team members only had about a month to prepare for the show, overcoming inexperience as a whole, as well as differing levels of experience within the team.
“We made history, pretty much because we have never had a dance team until this semester,” Alarcón Sosa explained. “We practiced for over a month. To come up with a team in such little time — everybody was really impressed.”
Though some of the girls on the squad are just starting out, Alarcón Sosa and Aguilar have both been dancing since they were young.
Indian River senior forward London Tucker wasn’t part of the starting five at the beginning of basketball season. Senior forward Jaevon ‘B.B.’ Holland only has two years of varsity experience under his belt after breaking his knee as a freshman and having to sit out his sophomore year.
But neither of these factors could stop either player from collecting All-Conference honors in their senior seasons — or from leading the Indians to their first post-season appearance in boys basketball since 1999.
Holland, who was named second team All-Conference last year as a junior, was awarded first team honors for the 2013-2014 season, while Tucker makes his first appearance on the honorable mention list — though he has also been named All-Conference for football.
“I’m very honored to make it to the first team,” said Holland. “It shows that I came a long way in two years. It shows how much my game improved in a year. It really showed me what I have taken from [Head Coach Mike Fabber] teaching me.”
“When I was a sophomore I did not think I would be in this position,” Tucker continued. “It’s a great feeling.”
The Indian River High School football program will be sending two seniors to Newark this summer to participate in the 59th Annual Delaware Foundation Reaching Citizens Blue-Gold All-Star football game, to be played at the University of Delaware Tubby Raymond Field.
The Ocean City (Md.) Recreation & Parks Department held its 3rd Annual Sportsmanship Ceremony on Wednesday, Feb. 19, at which it recognized several youth athletes participating in the department’s winter-season sports who had “exemplified good sportsmanship” in their respective sports. A select number of participants from boys’ basketball, girls’ basketball and indoor soccer were chosen to receive an award and public recognition at the banquet.
The event also recognized two winners of the Mid-Atlantic Recreation & Parks Sports Association Alliance (MARPSA) 2013 Dennis Callahan Good Sport Award.
Kealey Allison of Selbyville had already attended a special ceremony in Annapolis at which she and Robert “Bob” Frick of Bishopville, Md., received the prestigious Callahan award for their year-round participation in several different sports offered by the OCRPD and exemplary sportsmanship the two exhibited while participating in those sports. Allison participates as an athlete in multiple sports, while Frick has been coaching youth teams since 1987.
Season opens March 1
The DNREC Division of Fish & Wildlife recently announced that its spring 2014 downstate trout season will begin Saturday, March 1, with the opening of two downstate ponds stocked with rainbow trout. On that date, Tidbury Pond near Dover in Kent County and Newton Pond outside of Greenwood in Sussex County will open for trout fishing beginning at 7 a.m.
Hot dogs and baked beans, apple pie and scrambled eggs: who wants some?
If you’ve been to an Indian River High School basketball game in the last decade, you’re well aware that this isn’t a grocery list — it’s a chant. You’re probably also aware that it isn’t just any chant, it’s a chant from the Indians’ number one fan, Queen Bratton, strategically timed to disrupt the concentration of opposing foul shooters.
After shouting out her signature foul shot chant, students in the bleachers usually respond with an enthusiastic “I do!” — and sometimes even begin the chant themselves, most recently at a packed gymnasium on the road during the Indian River/Stephen Decatur matchup.
“I like that, it was awesome because it was support,” said Bratton of the cheer section at the Decatur game. “I need that support. I knew somebody had my back.”
Coming off a deflating 83-59 loss to Stephen Decatur last Monday, Feb. 17, the Indian River High School boys’ basketball team rebounded with a 66-64 win against Seaford on Tuesday, Feb. 18, to keep their state tournament hopes alive.
Senior forward Jaevon Holland put up a team-high 17 points for the Indians in what was an uncharacteristically low-scoring game for two typically high-scoring teams.
“Every time we play these guys, it’s a war,” said head coach Mike Fabber after the game. “Both coaches know each other real well. Both teams are pressing teams — both teams tried not to press today.”
Holland also pulled down a team-high 12 rebounds and added five steals and a block defensively. “We played a hard game. We played our hearts out,” he stated. “We know what type of team we are.”
The Indian River High School girls’ basketball squad has come a long way since the beginning of the year, but ended the season with back to back road losses against Stephen Decatur and Seaford.
Battling a hostile environment and talented Decatur team last Monday, Feb. 17, the Lady Indians continued to fight until the last whistle but ultimately fell, 63-28, to the Lady Seahawks.
“The kids understood the value of this game,” said head coach Matt Mayette after the loss. “We played a good middle two quarters, and then we showed our frustration in the fourth.”
Junior Faythe Wise put up a team-high 11 points in the loss, but the Lady Indians struggled against the Lady Seahawks’ bigger inside players.
For years, Lower Sussex Little League has held their opening day ceremonies on a Saturday. But this year, the league will begin a new tradition after scheduling opening day festivities for Friday, April 11.
The BunnyPalooza 5K/10K will take place a month later this year, thanks to the shifting Easter holiday, with the hopes of warmer weather drawing up more interest for the already successful Quiet Resorts Charitable Foundation event.
“We sold out at 800 last year,” said event coordinator Brigit Taylor. “I would venture to say that we will have the same number, if not more” this year. “It’s about a month later, so warmer weather will probably bring out more people.”
The Bethany Beach-based run is set for Saturday, April 19, but the surrounding events will kick off with a guest bartending event held at the Cottage Café on Wednesday, March 5, from 5 to 9 p.m., with a percentage of the proceeds going toward the QRCF. The event will feature music and raffles, with the opportunity to win race-day gear and even free entries.
Anyone who doesn’t remember Marquel Knight probably didn’t catch too many Indian River High School football games in the past few years — or pick up a copy of the Coastal Point to read the sports section, for that matter.
One of the key players on the Indians’ 2011 state championship team, Knight racked up 45 total touchdowns during his junior and senior seasons. As a wide receiver his junior year, he pulled in 73 passes for 1,168 yards with former-IR-quarterback-turned-Major-League-Baseball-prospect Jamie Jarmon under center.
After Jarmon graduated, Knight took control of the offense and was implemented in more of a running back role, carrying the ball 261 times for 1,838 yards, for an average of more than 7 yards per carry, and leading the Indians to their second consecutive Henlopen South title.