The Delaware Hayes High School boys basketball team patiently held off St. Charles 30-26 in the first round of the Division I district tournament last Wednesday at Hebron Lakewood.

The Delaware Hayes High School boys basketball team patiently held off St. Charles 30-26 in the first round of the Division I district tournament last Wednesday at Hebron Lakewood.

The Pacers were trying to earn the right to revisit a level and a court they hadn't played on in years when they battled Marion-Franklin in the second round last Saturday.

The winner advanced to a semifinal at 11:45 a.m. Saturday in the Fairgrounds Coliseum against third-seeded Westerville South or Hilliard Darby.

The Pacers have not played in the Coliseum since the Central District went to using sub-sites in the first two rounds of the tournament following the 2005-06 season. Prior to that, all the Division I district tournament games were in the Coliseum.

The last time the Pacers played in a district semifinal was a 65-44 loss to Brookhaven during the 2002-03 season.

But last Wednesday, all that mattered to the young Pacers was that they won their tournament opener for only the third time in the past seven seasons. Nick Caudill, the lone senior on the team, sealed the win by sinking two free throws with 7.6 seconds left and Keith Butts stole the ball on St. Charles' final possession.

"Those were big free throws, but I approached them just like it was every day in practice," Caudill said. "I just did the same routine like every time I go to the line. I knew I had to step up and knock them down."

Delaware, which improved to 12-9, missed the front ends of two one-and-one tosses in the final 47 seconds, and it appeared it might cost the Pacers when Joe Spahr scored in the lane with 30 seconds left to pull the Cardinals within 28-26.

St. Charles had a chance to tie, but Dane McLoughlin's shot from under the bucket rolled off the rim with nine seconds left and Jacob Bosiokovic rebounded and passed to Caudill, who was fouled.

"We went 7-for-11 from the line tonight, even though we missed those two in the final minute," interim coach Jordan Blackburn said. "We shot 70 percent from the line as a team for the previous five games before (going 5-for-21 during a 54-50 loss to Olentangy Orange in the regular-season finale on Feb. 19)."

Poor shooting in the first half made Delaware settle for a 16-10 halftime lead, but standout guard Matt Bingaya had three fouls. Both teams were very deliberate on offense.

St. Charles, which couldn't match up with Delaware's quickness, sat back in a zone defense to open the third quarter. The Pacers responded by standing out top near midcourt for a four-minute stretch and nearly most of the first five minutes of the third quarter. Delaware led 21-14 entering the fourth period.

"If (St. Charles coach Jacob Daniel) is going to be happy being down six going into the fourth quarter, we'll take that," Blackburn said.

"We had two guys in foul trouble, so we would have been happy to go to the fourth quarter with all our guys."

Bingaya had 14 points and seven rebounds to lead Delaware and Caudill had eight points.

Blackburn credited Bosiokovic and Nick Potter for creating the defensive pressure on Cardinals' standouts Patrick McAllister and Dane McLoughlin, who were averaging a combined 30.3 points per game. McLoughlin scored eight and McAllister had four.

Matt Harbrecht added all of his seven points when St. Charles cut a 25-17 deficit to 28-24 with 1:23 left. The Cardinals finished 7-14.