DOVER -- The script Dover High School boys' basketball coach Matt Fennessy planned entering Tuesday night’s game against Salem didn’t involve overtime, but that’s what the Green Wave faced.
And to nobody’s surprise, Kingsley Breen was there to leave no doubt as to who would survive the Division I matchup.
Breen’s win on the opening tip of overtime immediately led to a Luke Geppert layup, and Breen went on to score seven points in Dover’s 17-11 overtime toward an 83-77 victory.
“We gave the fans some free basketball tonight. That was not the goal at the beginning of the game, and I didn’t feel like it would be a back-and-forth at the beginning, but it certainly turned into that,” Fennessy said. “Offensively in the second half, we started to get some runs at the rim. “(Breen) is just a good offensive player who is really hard to contain, especially when he gets downhill.”
Salem (2-3) held Breen to one bucket until his buzzer-beating 3-pointer from nearly 30 feet away tied the game at 32 at halftime. Breen scored 25 of his game-high 30 points after halftime, including 11 points in Dover’s 18-13 third quarter that left the Green Wave (4-1) with a 50-45 lead entering the fourth.
“I was a little frustrated at the beginning, but I just kept a good mindset with my teammates and just kept a positive attitude and we prevailed,” Breen said. “This was a good win. Everybody just trusted each other.”
Back-to-back hoops by Michael Ference gave Salem a 61-60 lead with 1:48 left in regulation, when Jackson Rutland countered with a 3-pointer to give Dover back the lead. Another Ference hoop tied the game, but Breen hit one of two free throws to leave Dover with a 64-63 lead with 54.2 seconds left.
Trevor DeMinico (27 points) gave Salem a 65-64 lead with a drive, but a pair of Breen free throws gave Dover a 66-65 lead with 12.3 seconds remaining.
The Blue Devils moved the ball to Dover’s side of the court and called a timeout with 7.6 seconds left. A pass into the paint resulted in a foul as time expired, leaving Alex Devir at the foul line all by himself. Devir missed the first free throw, but hit the second to send the game into overtime tied at 66-66.
Aidan Ayala brought Salem to with 69-68 in overtime, when Breen and DeMinico traded hoops. After a pull back foul line jumper by Breen gave Dover a 73-70, a Salem travel led to Max Casey-to-Geppert transition that left Dover with a 75-70 lead with 1:50 left in overtime.
“We started with Luke getting the tip, getting the ball in and that kind of set the tone,” Breen said.
Dover effectively put the game away after an intentional foul called on DeMinico led to a pair of free throws by Darian Lopez-Sullivan (18 points) to give Dover a 77-72 lead with 1:19 remaining. The Green Wave hit six of eight free throws to seal the win.
“We’re proud of them; I think they fight pretty hard,” Salem coach Rob McLaughlin said. “But games like these at the top of the standings, you’ve got to do the little things right. I thought we played well in spurts. We kind of dug ourselves a hole. I thought we could’ve extended leads, but we kept on giving them second and third shots.”
Salem’s biggest lead was 42-38 midway through the third quarter, but Dover responded with a 12-0 run. Lopez-Sullivan tied the game at 42-42, Rutland followed with a 3-pointer and Breen capped off the spurt with a 3-pointer from the top of the key to give Dover a 50-42 lead.
“It was good to see us battle in overtime and never give up no matter what. Being at home helped us a lot,” Lopez-Sullivan said. “There was adversity in this game, so it was just good that we came back and battled through it.”