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DOVER — When the Sickles girls basketball team’s bus blew a tire on the 26-mile trip to Dover for Tuesday’s doubleheader at Strawberry Crest, the boys team’s minivans backtracked to pick them up.
The points for chivalry were the easiest ones the Gryphons would manage all night.
Defense and dead-eye proficiency from long range propelled Strawberry Crest (2-2, 1-1) to a mildly surprising 61-49 triumph against the Gryphons (2-1, 1-1) in a Class 6A, District 11 contest.
It was the Chargers’ second statement victory in as many Decembers, coming 51 weeks after their 20-point stunner against Wharton.
“Actually, this is a big statement,” Chargers coach Andre Lewis said. “We haven’t been playing well to start the season, but tonight we played the way we’re capable of playing. It’s just time to stick with the system and move forward.”
Clearly, that system is predicated by the perimeter effort. The Chargers, who collected nine 3-pointers, had four during a 17-4 first-half run that gave them the lead for good.
Junior guard Malik Channer (game-high 17 points) had two in a row during the spurt. Senior guard Devin Diggs (15) capped it with a trey of his own, giving the host a 25-14 lead with 4:40 to play in the first half.
“We’re a guard-oriented team so we’re going to have to be able to shoot the ball,” Lewis said. “We really don’t have an inside presence, so we have to rely on our defense and our guards making buckets.”
The Gryphons, who managed only two treys, scored five consecutive interior field goals during a 13-2 third-period run, cutting their deficit to 41-34.
But the Chargers withstood, getting five consecutive points from Diggs — including two tough shots in the lane — to give Crest a 51-41 lead with 4:25 to go. Sickles never came within eight of the Chargers the rest of the game.
“I really think (the key) was defense,” Channer said, “because in the past three games we’ve played terrible defense, and we had the mind-set today to just come out and play good team defense.”