This past Sunday, March 20, the Delaware Blue Coats hosted and inevitably fell to the Maine Celtics 145-141 in their second meeting of the regular season.
The two teams had previously met on Thursday, Jan. 13, when the Blue Coats escaped with a 111-107 victory. Much like their first meeting, this game had back-and-forth action and remained tight throughout. This was to be expected, though, as the two squads share a rivalry that eerily mirrors the NBA’s Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers rivalry.
“The whole forty-eight minutes were back-and-forth, back-and-forth,” Blue Coats guard Shaquille Harrison said. “Honestly, I feel like it does [resembled the 76ers-Celtics rivalry]. We get up a little bit when we see Maine, for sure.”
For much of the game, it was a competitive one that saw the score tied 16 times and 21 lead changes.
In the first half, the defense seemed nonexistent on either side as Delaware took a 71-70 lead into the locker room.
Whenever one team tried to pull away, the other seemed to have an answer. For the Celtics, their answer was the three-point shot, which remained a thorn in the side of the Blue Coats.
Maine shot 50% from the three-point line throughout the game, with many of those shots coming from deep and with expiring shot clocks. While those types of shots may have demoralized many other teams, the Blue Coats continued to fight up until the final buzzer.
“We’ve been on the other side of it, making a lot of shots against teams,” Blue Coats forward Aaron Henry said. “We kind of know what it’s like to play against that and what to do, but when teams are hitting shots like we kind of do, it is tough to stop. We just have to watch the film and get better.”
While the majority of the game was close, Maine had control for much of the fourth quarter. With just under three minutes left of play, they were up by as many as 11 points.
However, Delaware had a late-game surge led by forced turnovers and big shots that saw their deficit be cut to just two points in the winding seconds. When asked about the comeback, Henry credited his teammates for refusing to give up.
“No quit [in us],” Henry said. “We’ve shown that all year, and been resilient. We can be in front or play from behind and have to catch up, but teams are going to give us their best shot. We just have to prepare for that and play our game, not our opponents.”
Delaware had a pretty clean game, as they turned the ball over ten fewer times than the Celtics. They also had three players score over 20 points, Harrison (24), Myles Powell (33), and Charles Bassey (22).
However, the Celtics’ tough shooting and abundance of strong-scoring performances were what ultimately led to their victory in Delaware.
The Blue Coats will be looking to regain their momentum as the regular season winds down. With six games remaining and five of those at home, Delaware will have an opportunity to finish the regular season strong ahead of the playoffs starting with their next game on Wednesday, March 23, against the Capital City Go-Go on the road.
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