HOCKESSIN – The Sanford Warriors took the lead early with a 13-0 run in the first quarter, built the advantage to as many as 13, then spent the second half locked in a battle with Wilmington Friends in a matchup of two of the state's top teams. The Quakers, ranked fifth, twice crept within one point, but they could not get over the top as No. 2 Sanford held on for a 65-58 victory Saturday afternoon before a capacity crowd.
While Marcus Delpeche spearheaded the Quakers' third-quarter charge, Todd Hughes carried the host Warriors, scoring 17 of the host team's 28 points. He finished with 21, one point below teammate Anthony Mosley's game-high 22.
The game was a crowd-pleaser, with several dunks, transition baskets caused by relentless defense and a postseason atmosphere. It was the second meeting between the Independent Conference foes; Sanford won, 59-52, at Friends on Jan. 10.
Friends found itself down, 39-29, early in the third before they turned up the pressure. Delpeche hit two free throws, then finished the next possession with a thunderous dunk after a Warriors turnover. The Quakers continued chipping away at the lead, and a Larenz Thurman basket off an assist from Sam Carney brought them to within 45-43 with 1:24 left in the third.
The teams went back and forth into the final quarter, when Quakers forward Sean Kirkpatrick hit a three-point shot to cut the Sanford lead to 53-52. Friends missed a few chances to tie the game or take the lead, and the Warriors hit six free throws in the final minute to seal the win.
The third Sanford player in double figures was freshman Mikey Dixon, who energized his team and the home fans with 13 points in the second quarter. Dixon hit a tough running layup when he entered the game, then added three three-point shots and another layup before halftime. He keyed a 13-4 run during the quarter as Sanford built its biggest lead, 32-19.
Dixon was part of another highlight-reel play in the third quarter, picking up an assist on an alley-oop to Mosley.
Delpeche and Thurman each finished with 16 to lead Friends. The Quakers, who fell to 11-4, next play on Thursday at 5:15 p.m. at Delaware Military Academy.
Sanford (12-3) returns to action Tuesday at Caravel, with tipoff at 5:15.