The Delaware Hayes High School boys basketball team used athleticism and cohesiveness to produce a record season.
The Pacers finished 21-4 overall, breaking the program record for wins in a season. The previous mark was 19, set in the 1976-77 season and matched in 1985-86.
"This team did a great job in setting the foundation for all future Hayes teams," said coach Jordan Blackburn, whose team ended its season with a 79-69 loss to eighth-seed Westerville Central in a Division I district semifinal March 5 at Olentangy Orange. "I will always remember the unselfishness of this team and how no one cared who got the credit. It was the most cohesive team I've coached."
Delaware, which was seeded 10th of 45 teams in the district, opened the postseason with a 59-50 overtime win over 22nd-seeded Dublin Jerome on Feb. 22 and held off 18th-seeded New Albany 38-36 in the second round Feb. 28 before falling to Westerville Central.
The Pacers went 11-3 in the OCC-Capital Division to share the league title with New Albany. Worthington Kilbourne (10-4) was third, followed by Franklin Heights (7-7), Mount Vernon (5-9), Olentangy (5-9), Big Walnut (4-10) and Olentangy Orange (3-11).
The season didn't look like it would end with a championship after Delaware lost its first two league games, falling 59-57 to Kilbourne on Dec. 7 and 57-40 to New Albany on Dec. 10. Their other league loss came against Franklin Heights, 48-42 on Jan. 8.
The Pacers avenged those losses in the second round of OCC-Capital play, beating Kilbourne 47-44 on Jan. 17, Franklin Heights 52-38 on Feb. 7 and New Albany 38-37 in the regular-season finale Feb. 15 to force a first-place tie.
"Since the OCC-Capital was reconfigured in 2008-09, this is Hayes' first championship in football, basketball or baseball," said Blackburn, whose team had a penchant for winning close games, going 9-2 in games decided by six points or fewer and 8-1 in games decided by four points or fewer. "There's a lot to be proud of on and off the court, especially with the kind of young men our seniors are and the way they led, which will continue to trickle down to the younger guys."
Delaware, which won 14 consecutive games before losing to Westerville Central, will be losing six players to graduation. Each of the seniors is expected to continue his athletic career at the college level.
Forwards Alex Stevens and Jamie Lahman have committed to Ohio Dominican and Denison, respectively. Guards Tyler Treese and Phil Frentsos also are looking to play college basketball, but neither has made a decision. Forward Gaige Linville has committed to playing football at Wittenberg, and guard Jante Wright also has received offers to play football in college but has yet to make a decision.
According to Blackburn, junior guard Khalil Iverson already has drawn attention from most of the Mid-American Conference schools in basketball. Against Westerville Central, he scored 27 points on 9-for-15 shooting, including 2-for-5 from 3-point range. He also was 7-for-12 from the line and had 10 rebounds, seven assists, three steals and two blocked shots.
"People got a glimpse of what is yet to come for Khalil," Blackburn said. "He didn't have to shoot many 3-pointers most of the season because Tyler, (junior guard) Noble (Moore) and Phil served those roles for us, but he hit consecutive 3-pointers down the stretch of the fourth quarter because that's what we needed."
Iverson led the team in scoring (17.4 points per game), rebounding (11.2), steals (2.8) and blocked shots (2.5). He shot 56.1 percent from the floor and was named first-team all-league and second-team all-district.
Treese averaged 9.3 points, 4.5 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 1.6 steals and shot 41.2 percent from 3-point range and 74.4 percent from the free-throw line. He made second-team all-league and honorable mention all-district.
Frentsos (8.7), Moore (8.6), Linville (5.3) and Stevens (3.6) followed in scoring. Stevens, who played only 11 games because of injury, averaged 5.6 rebounds and Linville averaged 5.3. Linville shot a team-best 78.7 percent from the foul line and was special mention all-league and Moore, who shot a team-best 44.2 from 3-point range, was honorable mention all-league.
Frentsos and Stevens were honorable mention all-district.
Expected to return along with Iverson and Moore are juniors Hayden Dunlap (forward), Jordan Hecker (guard) and Shane Sand (forward). Dunlap averaged 3.9 points and 4.4 rebounds and Hecker averaged 3.7 points.
Girls basketball team losing four starters
The girls basketball team is losing five seniors, including four starters.
Among the losses are Kristen McMillen and Julie Bauer, who led Delaware to its first winning season in five years.
The Pacers finished 14-9 overall, marking their first winning season since going 22-1 in 2008-09.
McMillen, a four-year starter at point guard, averaged 14.8 points, 5.2 assists, 4.9 rebounds and 2.4 steals and shot 44.4 percent from 3-point range and 84.8 percent from the foul line. She was named third-team all-district and first-team all-league.
Bauer, a guard, averaged 9.2 points, five rebounds, four assists and 2.9 steals and was honorable mention all-district and special mention all-league.
"Kristen and Julie have been a big part of this program for four years and they worked very hard," coach Peter Minardi said. "They will be sorely missed as will the entire senior class."
The other two starters in the senior class were guard Maranda Merriman, who averaged 9.1 points, and forward Miriam Aburmaieleh, who averaged 2.5 points and 3.5 rebounds.
"This was our best season in years and it was due to the experience and leadership of the senior class," Minardi said. "Maranda Merriman was a three-year (letterwinner) and Miriam Aburmaieleh was a two-year starter."
Delaware went 9-5 in the OCC-Capital to place third, behind Mount Vernon (13-1) and Olentangy (12-2) and ahead of New Albany (8-6), Big Walnut (6-8), Kilbourne (6-8), Orange (2-12) and Franklin Heights (0-14).
The Pacers ended the season Feb. 20 with a 71-58 loss to 15th-seeded DeSales in the second round of the Division I district tournament. Seeded 20th of 47 teams in the district, they had a first-round bye.
Expected to lead Delaware next season is junior forward Abbie Gore, a starter who averaged 5.8 points and 4.7 rebounds and was honorable mention all-league.
Also expected to return are juniors Alexis Anderson (forward), Ausia Anderson (guard), Sirya Banks (guard) and Kayla Taglione (guard), sophomore Brandy Bauer (forward) and freshman Nikeea Heston (guard).
"It was a successful season, for the most part, but we need to get this program back and have higher expectations," Minardi said. "We're losing two post players and we need to get stronger. We need to work on fundamentals and get better on the boards.
"We've got some talent (coming) back. I think Gore, Banks and Heston will be our leaders. The Andersons, Taglione and Brandy Bauer should be right there, too."
Bowmar competes in state bowling
Kayla Bowmar of the girls bowling team rolled a 488 series (175-153-160) in the Division I state tournament March 8 at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl to finish 60th of 104 competitors, including 76 who bowled three games.
Bowmar advanced to state individually by rolling a 548 (173-175-200) and placing third of 134 competitors at district March 1 at Eastland Lanes. The Pacers finished fifth (3,219) of 20 teams at district, behind Briggs (3,424), Westerville South (3,273), Zanesville (3,270) and Westerville Central (3,222).
Delaware fell three pins shy of qualifying for state as a team, as the top four teams and top four individuals not on a qualifying team advanced to state.
Also competing at district were senior Katie Fleming (12th, 502), freshman Alicia Halstead (37th, 437), senior Anna Williams (39th, 435) and junior Taylor Schurr (50th, 414).
Delaware finished fourth (3,116) in the 37-team sectional Feb. 21 at Eastland Lanes behind champion Briggs (3,345), as the top 20 teams and top 20 individuals not on a qualifying team advanced to district.
The Pacers finished 11-6 overall and went 4-1 in the six-team OCC-Cardinal to place second, behind Westerville South (5-0) and ahead of Westerville Central (3-2), Gahanna (2-3), Westerville North (1-4) and Big Walnut (0-5).
The boys team ended its season at district, finishing 11th (3,315) behind champion Westerville South (3,815).
Delaware was led at district by junior Jordan Lanham, who rolled a 529 to finish 27th of 139 competitors, including 87 who competed in three games. Sophomore Noah Bowmar (40th, 510) was next for the Pacers, followed by senior Ben Awenowicz (60th, 473) and sophomores Patrick Woller (65th, 467) and Dakota Brugler (71st, 450).
Delaware, which finished 14th (3,425) in the 40-team sectional behind champion Walnut Ridge (3,805), went 7-10 overall and 2-3 in the OCC-Cardinal to place fourth, behind Westerville South (5-0), Westerville Central (4-1) and Big Walnut (3-2) and ahead of Gahanna (1-4) and Westerville North (0-5).
Also on the boys roster were freshmen Drake Hood and Lane Price.