Delaware Christian School boys basketball coach Matt Moore made his team's regular-season schedule more challenging this winter with the idea that it would better prepare his squad for the postseason.
The Eagles were seeded 11th of 19 teams in the Division IV district tournament and had a first-round bye. They defeated 12th-seeded Millersport 88-52 in the second round Feb. 26 before losing to top-seeded Africentric 55-38 in a district semifinal March 4.
Delaware Christian finished 12-12 overall.
"We played (Africentric) very tight in the first half and I think we earned some respect," Moore said. "We played pretty well, but we made some costly third-quarter turnovers and they went on a run and took the wind out of our sails."
The Eagles trailed Africentric 15-10 after the first quarter and kept their deficit under eight points until the final 90 seconds of the second quarter, when the Nubians stretched their lead to 31-18 by halftime.
Junior forward Austin Roden had 12 points to lead Delaware Christian and junior guard MacGregor Roberts scored 10.
Senior point guard Pete Kerins led the way against Millersport with 21 points, seven assists, five rebounds and five steals. Senior guard David Tobin had 18 points on six 3-pointers, Roberts had 12 points and senior forward Jackson Quist scored nine.
The Eagles finished 5-7 in the MOCAL to place fourth, behind Fairfield Christian (12-0), Gahanna Christian (16-8) and Tree of Life (8-4) and ahead of Grove City Christian (4-8), Granville Christian (3-8) and Madison Christian (0-11).
Fairfield Christian and Grove City Christian will join the MSL next year.
Delaware Christian loses five seniors in Kerins, Tobin, Quist and post players Luke McGrath and Joey Miser. Kerins and Tobin were starters.
Kerins averaged 10.4 points, 5.1 rebounds, four assists and three steals and was named first-team all-district and first-team all-MOCAL. Tobin averaged 8.0 points.
"We'll miss these seniors because they helped us build toughness and continue to build the program," Moore said. "We also have some real good players coming back and our (junior varsity) team only lost four games."
Expected to return are three regular starters in Roden, Roberts and 6-foot-9 sophomore center Ben Evans and a part-time starter in junior guard Jacob Saliba.
Roden averaged 9.8 points, 7.0 rebounds and 2.9 steals and was second-team all-district and second-team all-league. Evans averaged 9.1 points and 11.3 rebounds and was second-team all-district and honorable mention all-league and Roberts averaged 9.8 points, 6.1 rebounds and two steals and was honorable mention all-league.
Evans also averaged 5.9 blocked shots over the final 10 games.
"Evans was playing organized basketball for just the second season, so we're excited to see how much more he'll progress in the offseason," Moore said. "Roden and Roberts had strong seasons and I think Saliba is very good but was just playing behind Kerins. (Saliba) is sneaky quick, jumps well and shoots well."
Moore expects the Eagles' non-league schedule to be even more challenging next season, as games against Harvest Prep, Berne Union, Big Walnut, Sparta Highland, Cardington and Wellington have been added.
"We've challenged these guys to step up their game and make offseason improvements because we will be playing the strongest schedule this program has ever had," Moore said. "I'm excited about the possibilities."