HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL DIAA CHAMPIONSHIP GAME 2017 - Mar 11 - Smyrna defeated Caravel 61-53 Smyrna eagles win THE state title for the first time in school history

NEWARK – As the fourth quarter began Saturday inside the Carpenter Center, Caravel Academy students – collected behind the east basket – began to chant “I believe that we will win!,” the volume and enthusiasm growing with each refrain.

Smyrna 7' 2 Junior Center Azubuike Nwankwo (33) handles the ball in the paint during warm ups prior an DIAA championship basketball game between Smyrna and Caravel Academy Saturday. March. 11, 2017 at The Bob Carpenter Sports Convocation Center in Newark Delaware.
Caravel Forward Brandon Sengphachanh (4) and Guard O'Koye Parker (24) listens to the playing of the national anthem prior an DIAA championship basketball game between Smyrna and Caravel Academy Saturday. March. 11, 2017 at The Bob Carpenter Sports Convocation Center in Newark Delaware.
Smyrna Forward Jaymeir Garnett (5) listens to the playing of the national anthem prior an DIAA championship basketball game between Smyrna and Caravel Academy Saturday. March. 11, 2017 at The Bob Carpenter Sports Convocation Center in Newark Delaware.
“They started making plays,” Matthews said, “but at the end, I feel like we switched to a little bit of a zone there and you could tell they weren’t really expecting that and it helped out a lot.”

Smyrna Center Azubuike Nwankwo (33) wins the tip off during the start of DIAA championship basketball game between Smyrna and Caravel Academy Saturday. March. 11, 2017 at The Bob Carpenter Sports Convocation Center in Newark Delaware.

Smyrna Forward Jaymeir Garnett (5) defends Caravel Forward Brandon Sengphachanh (4) during an DIAA championship basketball game between Smyrna and Caravel Academy Saturday. March. 11, 2017 at The Bob Carpenter Sports Convocation Center in Newark Delaware.

Smyrna Guard Caleb Matthews (10) dribbles the ball down the floor during an DIAA championship basketball game between Smyrna and Caravel Academy Saturday. March. 11, 2017 at The Bob Carpenter Sports Convocation Center in Newark Delaware.

Members of the Special Olympics was honor during a time out in the first half of an DIAA championship basketball game between Smyrna and Caravel Academy Saturday. March. 11, 2017 at The Bob Carpenter Sports Convocation Center in Newark Delaware.

“We just stayed the course,” Smyrna coach Andrew Mears said. “It got a little closer than, obviously, you ever want it to. But I felt like the entire time we still felt confident. I felt like we never got outside of who we are as a team.”
“We just stayed the course,” Smyrna coach Andrew Mears said. “It got a little closer than, obviously, you ever want it to. But I felt like the entire time we still felt confident. I felt like we never got outside of who we are as a team.”

Smyrna Center Azubuike Nwankwo (33) blocks Caravel Bradley Kaden (12) shot during an DIAA championship basketball game between Smyrna and Caravel Academy Saturday. March. 11, 2017 at The Bob Carpenter Sports Convocation Center in Newark Delaware.

Smyrna Guard Caleb Matthews (10) handles the ball as Caravel Guard Dwayne Earl (22) during an DIAA championship basketball game between Smyrna and Caravel Academy Saturday. March. 11, 2017 at The Bob Carpenter Sports Convocation Center in Newark Delaware.

Smyrna Forward Zion Cole (3) takes away the ball from defenders in the paint during an DIAA championship basketball game between Smyrna and Caravel Academy Saturday. March. 11, 2017 at The Bob Carpenter Sports Convocation Center in Newark Delaware.

Smyrna Forward Jaymeir Garnett (5) gestures after scoring in the paint during an DIAA championship basketball game between Smyrna and Caravel Academy Saturday. March. 11, 2017 at The Bob Carpenter Sports Convocation Center in Newark Delaware.

Smyrna Head coach Andrew Mears with the official during an DIAA championship basketball game between Smyrna and Caravel Academy Saturday. March. 11, 2017 at The Bob Carpenter Sports Convocation Center in Newark Delaware.

Smyrna Center Azubuike Nwankwo (33) blocks Caravel Forward Brandon Sengphachanh (4) shot attempt during an DIAA championship basketball game between Smyrna and Caravel Academy Saturday. March. 11, 2017 at The Bob Carpenter Sports Convocation Center in Newark Delaware.

Caravel Guard Trevon Alderman (20) attempts to drive past Smyrna Forward Jaymeir Garnett (5) at other end of the court during an DIAA championship basketball game between Smyrna and Caravel Academy Saturday. March. 11, 2017 at The Bob Carpenter Sports Convocation Center in Newark Delaware.

Caravel Guard O'Koye Parker (24) gesture after knocking down a three pointer to move Caravel within one point during an DIAA championship basketball game between Smyrna and Caravel Academy Saturday. March. 11, 2017 at The Bob Carpenter Sports Convocation Center in Newark Delaware.

Nwankwo spent his sophomore year at Wesley Christian, a small school in Allen City, Kentucky, a two-hour drive east of Lexington. When his family moved to Delaware over the summer

Smyrna Center Azubuike Nwankwo (33) drives to the basket as Caravel defenders defend during an DIAA championship basketball game between Smyrna and Caravel Academy Saturday. March. 11, 2017 at The Bob Carpenter Sports Convocation Center in Newark Delaware.

Smyrna Forward Anthony Watson (14) drives to the basket during an DIAA championship basketball game between Smyrna and Caravel Academy Saturday. March. 11, 2017 at The Bob Carpenter Sports Convocation Center in Newark Delaware.

Caravel Guard Trevon Alderman (20) and Joe Lange (31) fight for the loose ball during an DIAA championship basketball game between Smyrna and Caravel Academy Saturday. March. 11, 2017 at The Bob Carpenter Sports Convocation Center in Newark Delaware.

Smyrna Forward Jaymeir Garnett (5) grabs a rebound under the rim during an DIAA championship basketball game between Smyrna and Caravel Academy Saturday. March. 11, 2017 at The Bob Carpenter Sports Convocation Center in Newark Delaware.

Smyrna Center Azubuike Nwankwo (33), RIGHT, and Caravel Forward Brandon Sengphachanh (4) dive for the loose ball during an DIAA championship basketball game between Smyrna and Caravel Academy Saturday. March. 11, 2017 at The Bob Carpenter Sports Convocation Center in Newark Delaware.

Smyrna Guard Caleb Matthews (10) attempts to pass the ball in the paint during an DIAA championship basketball game between Smyrna and Caravel Academy Saturday. March. 11, 2017 at The Bob Carpenter Sports Convocation Center in Newark Delaware.

Smyrna Center Azubuike Nwankwo (33) drives to the basket as Caravel Forward Mandela Montgomery (11) defends during an DIAA championship basketball game between Smyrna and Caravel Academy Saturday. March. 11, 2017 at The Bob Carpenter Sports Convocation Center in Newark Delaware.

Smyrna Forward yair Hinson-Purnell (24) drives to the basket as Caravel Forward Brandon Sengphachanh (4) defends during an DIAA championship basketball game between Smyrna and Caravel Academy Saturday. March. 11, 2017 at The Bob Carpenter Sports Convocation Center in Newark Delaware.

Smyrna Center Azubuike Nwankwo (33) drives to the basket and dunks the ball during an DIAA championship basketball game between Smyrna and Caravel Academy Saturday. March. 11, 2017 at The Bob Carpenter Sports Convocation Center in Newark Delaware.

Smyrna Head coach Andrew Mears with the official during an DIAA championship basketball game between Smyrna and Caravel Academy Saturday. March. 11, 2017 at The Bob Carpenter Sports Convocation Center in Newark Delaware.

Smyrna student section celebrating in the final seconds of an DIAA championship basketball game between Smyrna and Caravel Academy Saturday. March. 11, 2017 at The Bob Carpenter Sports Convocation Center in Newark Delaware.

Smyrna and Caravel Academy players shakes hands after the Eagles defeated the Buc's 61-53 in DIAA championship game Saturday. March. 11, 2017 at The Bob Carpenter Sports Convocation Center in Newark Delaware.

O'Koye Parker (24) walks off the court in tears after the Eagles of Smyrna defeated the Buc's 61-53 in DIAA championship game Saturday. March. 11, 2017 at The Bob Carpenter Sports Convocation Center in Newark Delaware.

Smyrna players celebrates in the student sections after the Eagles defeated the Buc's 61-53 in DIAA championship game Saturday. March. 11, 2017 at The Bob Carpenter Sports Convocation Center in Newark Delaware.

Smyrna players celebrates in the student sections after the Eagles defeated the Buc's 61-53 in DIAA championship game Saturday. March. 11, 2017 at The Bob Carpenter Sports Convocation Center in Newark Delaware.

O'Koye Parker (24) receives his medal after the Eagles defeated the Buc's 61-53 in DIAA championship game Saturday. March. 11, 2017 at The Bob Carpenter Sports Convocation Center in Newark Delaware.

Smyrna Forward Jaymeir Garnett (5) receives his medal after the Eagles defeated the Buc's 61-53 in DIAA championship game Saturday. March. 11, 2017 at The Bob Carpenter Sports Convocation Center in Newark Delaware.

Smyrna Center Azubuike Nwankwo (33) receives his medal after the Eagles defeated the Buc's 61-53 in DIAA championship game Saturday. March. 11, 2017 at The Bob Carpenter Sports Convocation Center in Newark Delaware.

Head Coach Mark Tobin and his players receives their championship trophy after the Eagles defeated the Buc's 61-53 in DIAA championship game Saturday. March. 11, 2017 at The Bob Carpenter Sports Convocation Center in Newark Delaware.

Head Coach Mark Tobin and his players celebrate with their championship trophy after the Eagles defeated the Buc's 61-53 in DIAA championship game Saturday. March. 11, 2017 at The Bob Carpenter Sports Convocation Center in Newark Delaware.

Head Coach Mark Tobin and his players celebrate pose for photos with their championship trophy after the Eagles defeated the Buc's 61-53 in DIAA championship game Saturday. March. 11, 2017 at The Bob Carpenter Sports Convocation Center in Newark Delaware.

Smyrna Forward Jaymeir Garnett (5) cuts a piece of the net after the Eagles defeated the Buc's 61-53 in DIAA championship game Saturday. March. 11, 2017 at The Bob Carpenter Sports Convocation Center in Newark Delaware.
Smyrna Head coach Andrew Mears cuts a piece of the net after the Eagles defeated the Buc's 61-53 in DIAA championship game Saturday. March. 11, 2017 at The Bob Carpenter Sports Convocation Center in Newark Delaware.

No. 19-seeded Caravel was trying to continue to its run of upsets and was again led by Parker, a junior who had team highs of 26 points and six rebounds. With him and the Smyrna trio of Garnett, a sophomore, and juniors Matthews and Nwankwo, a Division I college assistant coach observing courtside wondered if a DIAA state final had ever featured four Division I prospects before.

“Ultimately, our guys just made a few plays down at the end that just kept it in our hands,” Mears said.

Credits:

Saquan Stimpson

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