Dolphins Head to Columbia for Semifinal

Jenny Scarborough

An Evin Caswell steal and inside feed to Andrew Tillett augured things to come.

Photo is fuzzy both because Walker is moving so fast and because Jenny is not a photographer.
Photo is fuzzy both because Walker is moving so fast and because Jenny is not a photographer.

In the first post-season game the Dolphin boys have ever hosted, they defeated Hatteras, 61-48, bringing their season record against the Hurricanes to 4-1, and their overall record to 11-9. On Tuesday, February 19, they will meet regular season champions Columbia with hopes of reaching the Tideland Conference final. The Dolphins are 0-3 against the Wildcats. All the losses were by fewer than 5 points.

Caswell held Hurricane Kyle Beierlein to one point for the night. Beierlein averages 11 for the season, and has dropped in as many as 21 against the Dolphins.

The Dolphins clearly intended to exploit their superior size, and lobbed inside to Tillett over and over. He had 22 points and a game dominating 25 boards. I know I say this in every article about Dolphin basketball, because it bears repeating: that young man has amazing hands. Tillett gracefully catches both erratic passes and difficult rebounds; he is strong, and gets a legitimate shot or outlet pass off even while he's being pounded under the basket.

Both teams struggled to score in the first quarter, which ended with a Wyatt Norris three pointer, to favor the Dolphins 12-5.

Another fuzzy photo, but check out how high Adam can jump!
Another fuzzy photo, but check out how high Adam can jump!

For much of the first half, Danny Arrellano seemed to be the only Hurricane adding points to the scoreboard. He stole the ball for two, drove past several Dolphins for two more, then hustled to pick up a loose ball and knocked down a three. Arrellano kept right on driving in, scoring field goals or from the line. He ended the night with 20.

A beautiful baseline drive and one handed reverse lay-up by Walker Garrish broke a second quarter field goal drought for the Dolphins, who held on to a six point lead for much of the game.

The Hurricanes had a chance to head to the locker room down two, when Beierlein found himself with a good open look from behind the arc as the final seconds of the half ticked off the clock. To the relief of Dolphin fans who have seen Beierlein's skills, the shot didn't fall and the Hurricanes faced a 23-18 deficit with 16 regulation minutes to play.

Garrish masterfully moves without the ball. He made a bucket and the extra point before Chris Johnson (he of the pink shoes, in loving homage to all families that, like his, have suffered from breast cancer) stepped up to score for Hatteras with back to back threes, making it 26-24.

Boxing out is important. 60 team rebounds helped the Dolphins win.
Boxing out is important. 60 team rebounds helped the Dolphins win.

The Hurricanes never got closer than that.

Tillett fought for the offensive rebound and scored. He scored again on an assist from Garrish, and again on an assist from Casey Tolson. When his teammates shots fell short, Tillett cleaned up and scored. In the third quarter, Tillett's five field goals accounted for most of the Dolphin points.

Hurricane junior Todd Midgett kept his team alive with long range shooting. His sweet three just before the third quarter buzzer made it 41-36. Midgett scored the first points of the fourth with a short drive and pull up jumper from just inside the free throw stripe. His team had a chance to tie with 7 minutes to play.

Andrew Gray's three point attempt fell short, and Caswell stretched the lead for the Dolphins, catching the defense off guard as he drove the baseline, and sinking his free throws. He then stepped in front of a pass, and knocked it to Adam Carter who got the easy lay up against Gray, who with four fouls made the smart move and ceded the two points, making it 46-38 with 5:24 left in the game.

An unfortunate (for Hatteras fans) player control foul against Arrellano at the top of the key gave him four as well, and the Dolphins the ball.

With both teams playing hard and contesting every shot, the final quarter was a war of attrition from the foul line. It took far longer than eight minutes to play. Arrellano continued to set the standard for his team, and sank every one of his eight second half free throws.

Ocracoke outscored the Hurricanes 20-12 in the last eight minutes. Garrish made 11 of 14 free throws, most of them late in the game. He matched his 16 points with 16 rebounds. Caswell missed only two free throws, scoring 6 of his 10 points from the line. He also grabbed 10 rebounds. Tillett was less than perfect from the line, 6 of 14 on the night, but everyone needs some room to improve, no?

The surprise was Midgett, a talented, pure and trained shooter, whose 2 of 8 performance from the charity stripe in the second half--several of them on the top end of one on ones--allowed the Dolphins to maintain and stretch their lead. (I was rooting for you to make it a tighter game, Todd!).

The final game between these two fine teams ended with a sigh. Dolphin Coach David Allewalt admitted it wasn't the dynamic contest these island rivals can provide.

"We didn't meet our potential. We couldn't put the ball in the hole. We got a six to eight point lead and we rode it out," he said. With buckets just not falling, his team had to find another way to win, with defense, rebounds, and hitting free throws. He credited his guards for controlling the ball well down the final stretch.

The crowd was happy with the victory, and a variation of the "Start the Ferry" taunt emerged. "Call the Coast Guard," chanted some gleeful Dolphin fans.

Hatteras' team has no seniors. In 2013-2014 the Dolphins will miss senior Casey Tolson, and welcome a crowd of freshman players.


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