The balance and poise of the Delaware Hayes High School boys basketball team could lead to a special season.
"In past years, we may have fallen apart a bit in tough situations, but I don't see that from this group," said coach Jordan Blackburn, whose team was 4-0 overall and 3-0 in the OCC-Cardinal Division before playing Worthington Kilbourne on Dec. 21. "We've got good leadership and good experience and we've got more guys capable of making big plays. We don't have to rely on one or two guys."
That was evident in a 64-57 overtime win over visiting Dublin Scioto on Dec. 14 and in a 76-73 win over visiting Thomas Worthington on Dec. 17.
Delaware watched a fourth-quarter lead slip away against Thomas, as the Cardinals went on a 12-0 run.
However, Jwan Lyles scored twice down the stretch to give the lead back to the Pacers, hitting a 3-pointer from the left corner and converting a layup off a feed from Nate Griggs.
Lyles finished with 13 points in support of Griggs (24) and Paul Burris (15). Terin Kinsway also scored 13 points.
"(Lyles) is starting to play like he knows he can do it," said Blackburn, whose team is preparing for a trip to Orlando, Florida, to compete in the KSA Events Holiday Tournament that begins Thursday, Dec. 27, and concludes Saturday, Dec. 29. "He looks completely different than he used to look. He used to be afraid to make a mistake."
Delaware's offensive balance offset big games from Thomas' Jalen Sullinger and Isaac Settles, who scored 35 and 24 points, respectively. Sullinger made nine 3-pointers, including four in the fourth quarter, but the Pacers locked Sullinger and Settles down on Thomas' final possession and the Cardinals turned to Charlie Mamlin, whose 3-point attempt at the buzzer bounced off the back of the rim. Thomas made 15 3-pointers in the game.
"We were supposed to foul with under five seconds left to not give them a chance to tie it, but it worked out well and we kept (Sullinger and Settles) from getting looks," Blackburn said. "We had to front and back (6-foot-9 Ben Wight) in the post defensively all game, so we figured we'd have to give something up, but we didn't want to give up that many 3s."
Against Scioto, the Pacers overcame a 50-33 second-half deficit and Griggs made a three-point play with 11 seconds left to force overtime, in which he scored seven of Delaware's nine points. Griggs finished with 24 points, while Kinsway added 19 points and 11 rebounds.
"We've shown the poise we need to have in the last two games," Blackburn said. "We didn't panic. This is a pretty veteran team and I don't have to micro-manage as much this year. They know the game and we can get things done in our normal offense. They know what is a good shot and they all have confidence in each other and in themselves."
Wrestlers place sixth in Liberty Classic
The wrestling team finished sixth (133 points) of 33 teams in Liberty Classic held Dec. 14 and 15 at Olentangy Liberty, behind champion Macedonia Nordonia (174.5).
Zach Williams (138 pounds), Emmett Cain (160), Corbin May (182) and Jacob McCloskey (195) all placed third to lead the Pacers. Nate Robinson (220) finished fourth and Tamas Eder (106) placed sixth.
Girls basketball team sees record fall to .500
The girls basketball team was trying to get back on track and post its first OCC-Cardinal win when it played Kilbourne on Dec. 21.
The Pacers won their first three contests, but a 54-46 loss to host Thomas on Dec. 17 dropped their record to 4-4 overall and 0-3 in the league.
Alexis Amabile had 30 points in a 63-52 win over visiting Olentangy on Dec. 11 to lead the way in the Pacers' lone win in their previous five games. Amabile scored 17 points in the second half, including going 10-for-12 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter. She finished the game 14-for-16 from the foul line.
Against Thomas, the Pacers trailed 35-33 entering the fourth quarter. Amabile had 15 points and Jordan Lantz scored 11.
Below are the coming schedules for the Delaware Hayes boys basketball, girls basketball and wrestling teams:
Dec. 27-29 -- KSA Events Holiday Tournament in Orlando, Fla.
Dec. 28 -- Home vs. Buckeye Valley
Dec. 27-28 -- Greater Miami Valley Wrestling Association Holiday Tournament at Wright State