Over the last few seasons, the Sussex Central boys basketball squad has struggled to climb out of the basement of the Henlopen Conference.

The Golden Knights haven’t reached the state tournament since 2009, and they haven’t won more than 6 games in a season since. This season the squad aimed to change both of those unattractive statistics, and so far this season it’s clear they’re well on their way to doing it.

The Golden Knights stand at 6-2 only 8 games into the season. An impressive achievement considering the squad won only 5 games all of last season. The reason for the turnaround could be simply described as hard work paying off.  Central has benefited from the strong play of many who have been given a larger role and more opportunity to play.

Guys like Shyheim Ayres, Marcus Isler and Rashad Kelly have led the way for the Golden Knights this season. All saw the court last season, but now they’re being counted on to guide this squad to success, and so far they’re doing an outstanding job.

While effort has never been a problem for Central over the years, mismatches on the court have been. This season, the Golden Knights have 4 players who are 6”1 or over which is a luxury they haven’t had in the past.  And the impact made by those players is clear with both Isler and Kelly helping lead the way in the scoring department for Sussex Central.

A lot of credit must go to Head Coach Wes Townswend, who is well known for being a mentor and teacher of the young men he’s coaching.

During these last few rough seasons for the Golden Knights, Townsend’s enthusiasm and belief has never wavered. He’s always been a motivator, and made it clear that he’s not only a basketball coach but a molder of young men. And with many returning players from last season on this year’s squad, it’s clear that Townsend’s approach may be starting to click with his team.

As we near the halfway mark of the season, the Golden Knights find themselves in terrific position and well on their way to reaching the state tournament for the first time since 2009. However, as quickly as the turnaround has occurred, it can crumble just as quickly.

Of their remaining 12 games, 9 are against conference opponents. While it’s a golden opportunity to try and pull away from the pack, it’s also 9 more chances for teams to gain ground. 

The Golden Knights will certainly be tested down the stretch. They still have match ups upcoming against rival Sussex Tech and the two squads who have handed them their only losses of the season in Dover and Cape Henlopen, not to mention a date with Salesianum in early February.

The early season turnaround for the Golden Knights has been one of the most intriguing stories of this young season. However, with plenty of work to do Central will have to keep their momentum going if they want to see this Cinderella story finish with a happy ending.