To those who think the Delaware Hayes High School boys basketball team cannot win league or Division I district titles without standout Matt Bingaya, the Pacers insist they'll be fine.

To those who think the Delaware Hayes High School boys basketball team cannot win league or Division I district titles without standout Matt Bingaya, the Pacers insist they'll be fine.

"The team will be fine and we will win, but my heart does go out to Matthew," coach Jordan Blackburn said. "I heard a quote once that said: 'Adversity has an effect of eliciting talents, which under regular circumstances would have lain dormant.' I don't know who said it, but I love it. We will band together and get it done.

"We have a young team, but we are not rebuilding, which has been asked to me several times. We expect to win. That's the standard we have set for ourselves and that's what we are going to do."

The 6-foot-4 Bingaya will miss his senior basketball season because of an injury suffered playing football for the Pacers. A wide receiver, he sustained a torn posterior cruciate ligament in his right knee Oct. 7. He said the recovery is expected to take four to six months.

Bingaya averaged 21.2 points and 11.2 rebounds as a junior to help the Pacers finish 15-7 overall and 11-3 in the OCC-Capital Division. He was the OCC-Capital Player of the Year, Division I first-team all-district and special mention all-state.

Bingaya signed Nov. 16 to play basketball at Morehead State in Kentucky.

Three letterwinners and two starters return for the Pacers, who lost to Olentangy Liberty 54-51 in the second round of last season's district tournament.

They include 6-foot-6 senior forward Jacob Bosiokovic, senior guard Zack Parsons and junior point guard Mike Wells.

Wells averaged 16.2 points, 5.1 assists and 2.9 steals last year, and made 100 of 115 free-throw attempts (87 percent). He was first-team all-league and honorable mention all-district.

"Mike has improved immensely," Blackburn said. "His ability to make clutch shots and clutch free throws is obvious. This year he has added a 3-point capacity to his game and has increased his shooting percentage. He made that happen by shooting thousands of jumpers a week this summer.

"Mike is attracting interest from several Division I schools now because of the work he has put in this offseason. He will be an anchor for us."

Bosiokovic, who earlier this month signed to play baseball for Ohio State, is team captain. He averaged 5.4 points, 7.2 rebounds, 2.8 blocks, 2.4 assists and 2.3 steals last season, and shot 52 percent from the floor.

He will be asked to supply more rebounds and scoring this season, as Bingaya led the team in both categories last year.

"We will rebound as a team," Blackburn said. "It's one of the things we (work on) every day in practice and we get it done collectively.

And (Bosiokovic) will be a big part of that.

"Although he is a four-year starter, this is the first time he has ever worked on basketball extensively in the offseason. He is a freak athlete, so it's not a shock that he has improved tremendously. I expect him to be the best big man in our conference and provide leadership every day."

Parsons averaged 7.3 points and was 41-for-104 (39.4 percent) from 3-point range last winter.

"(Parsons) will go over 100 3-pointers made for his career early in the season, which is an accomplishment for any player," Blackburn said. "He has also added several quality moves off the dribble, which we expect him to use to get others open and to get shots for himself. … I expect him to lead now, not follow this year, which he is adjusting to well."

The Pacers finished second in the league last season behind New Albany (13-1) and ahead of Mount Vernon (10-4), Olentangy Orange (9-5), Hilliard Bradley (7-7), Big Walnut (4-10) and Watkins Memorial and Franklin Heights (both 1-13). The Pacers beat New Albany 56-50 in the second round of league play.

Delaware opens Friday, Dec. 2, at Marysville and begins league play Dec. 6 at home against Franklin Heights.

"There is an increased sense of urgency with this team because they know they have to band together tightly if they want to compete," Blackburn said. "They get it. If they don't band together we will get embarrassed and they understand that. They are a very close group and our goals won't change.

"We control what becomes of this season. It's not fate. We have what it takes to win and that's what we expect to do. We will not use youth as an excuse. We expect great things."

The rest of Delaware's nine-player roster includes underclassmen.
Expected to start early in the season are sophomore guard Janté Wright and sophomore forward Gaige Linville.

Rounding out the roster are sophomores Jamison Lahman (forward) and Thoeun Sorn (guard) and freshmen Khalil Iverson (guard) and Noble Moore (guard).

"Jamison Lahman, Janté Wright and Gaige Linville were all members of a very successful freshman team last year that won 18 games," Blackburn said. "All three have already figured out how to compete, understand their roles and expect to win.

"Khalil is a good rebounder and an athletic young man whose frame belies his age. As his confidence continues to grow, Khalil will continue to become more and more of a factor for us."