Five days after defeating 12th-seeded St. Charles 49-30 in the second round of the Division I district tournament, the 18th-seeded Delaware Hayes boys basketball team orchestrated another upset.
The Pacers defeated fourth-seeded Pickerington Central 57-45 in a district semifinal March 4 at Worthington Christian Middle School to advance to a district final for the first time since the 2014-15 season, when they lost 87-51 to Westerville South.
Delaware was 15-9 before playing 13th-seeded Westerville Central for a district title March 7 at Ohio Dominican. The Warhawks upset third-seeded Columbus South 65-62 in a district semifinal March 4.
"It's a good win for us," first-year coach Adam Vincenzo said. "I'm not taking anything away from (the Tigers), but our expectation was to come in here and do what we did. We talked about expectations a lot, and it's a good feeling.
"This is something we talked about for a long time: playing for a district title. We've had our ups and downs this year, and we've always stayed the course and we never lost sight of what the goal is, and ... we've got a lot of seniors who didn't want their career to end."
The Tigers, who finished 18-7, were two seasons removed from winning a regional title to reach the state tournament.
The game was tied at 7 midway through the first quarter, but Delaware led 12-9 after the period and never relinquished the lead. The Pacers extended their lead to 28-20 by halftime and 39-29 by the end of the third quarter.
Senior forward Paul Burris had a team-high 22 points, including six 3-pointers.
"We knew they were long, they're athletic," Vincenzo said of the Tigers. "Our goal was to try to get (the game) at our pace. We knew we didn't want to get up and down (the court) with them. We felt like we dictated the pace the whole game and things fell into our favor."
Senior guard Nate Griggs added 14 points for the Pacers and senior guard Nabil Abdus-Salaam scored 10.
"(Our mindset was) not to get passive and just keep attacking," Griggs said. "They wanted to speed it up, but we slowed it down and took advantage."
The Tigers applied a full-court press for much of the game hoping to stifle Delaware's offense, but the Pacers were able to maneuver around it.
"We knew we were going to see a lot of pressure and we worked a lot on that in practice this whole week," Vincenzo said. "We had a really good week of practice and prepped for that. It was good to see it pay off."
"Our scout team is really good, our coaching staff is really good. We have guys that mimic guys on their team," Griggs said. "We knew every one of their plays. We were all over them."
The district champion faces Pickerington North or Thomas Worthington in a regional semifinal Thursday, March 12, at Ohio Dominican, with the winner playing Gahanna, Hilliard Bradley, Newark or Walnut Ridge in the regional final Saturday, March 14, at Ohio Dominican.
The regional champion advances to a state semifinal March 20 at Ohio State.
The Pacers were swept by Bradley in OCC-Cardinal Division play, losing 57-47 on Jan. 3 and 59-37 on Jan. 31, but split their two league contests with Thomas, winning 43-41 on Jan. 21 after losing 56-43 on Dec. 13.
Eight wrestlers advance to district
Eight members of the boys wrestling team qualified for the Division I district tournament held March 6 and 7 at Hilliard Darby.
Seniors Emmett Cain (160 pounds), Corbin May (170), Nathan Robinson (220) and Mason Sutandar (182) all won sectional titles Feb. 29 at Marysville, as the top four finishers in each weight class advanced to district.
Juniors Tamas Eder (113) and Clay Ours (195) placed second, senior Tristan Burton (145) placed third and junior Marshall Klingel (heavyweight) placed fourth.
Sophomores Thomas Ross (120) and Paolo Sferrella (132) both placed fifth and were district alternates.
Delaware scored 229 points at sectional to place third behind Olentangy Liberty (261.5) and Marysville (241) as 12 teams scored.
"They have worked extremely hard to get to this point," coach Kevin Rieman said. "I feel like they performed very well at the sectional and they are peaking at the right time. We all trust the process and system we have in place and I still feel their best wrestling is ahead."
The top four finishers in each weight class advanced to the state tournament, which runs Friday, March 13, through March 15 at Ohio State.
Girls bowlers compete at state
The girls bowling team competed in the Division I state tournament March 7 at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl.
Delaware qualified for state by placing fourth of 16 teams in the district tournament Feb. 29 at HP Lanes. The Pacers rolled a 3,282 to earn the final state berth, behind Westerville Central (3,599), Gahanna (3,318) and Olentangy (3,305).
Marion Harding placed fifth (3,115).
Freshman Makayla Pounds led the Pacers, placing sixth of 108 bowlers with a 550 three-game series. Sophomore Hannah Halstead (12th, 522) was next, followed by senior McKenzie Cooke (17th, 483) and sophomores Grace McIllwain (46th, 432) and Lydia Bendele (56th, 410).
Gymnastics team concludes season
The gymnastics team concluded its season by finishing 14th (124.85) of 23 teams in the district meet Feb. 22 at Worthington Kilbourne, behind champion Thornville Sheridan (144.55).
Sheridan, Olentangy Berlin (139.275) and Dublin Jerome (138.775) advanced to the state team meet Feb. 28 at Bradley.
Sophomore Rachel White led the Pacers, placing ninth on balance beam (9.05) and 27th in the all-around (33.325). She was a state alternate on beam, as the top eight finishers in each event and the all-around advanced to the state individual meet Feb. 29 at Bradley.
The Pacers are losing four seniors in Chelsey Co, Caitie Lipps, Kayla Thompson and Elizabeth White.
The expected returnees include White, junior Jeorgia Turturice, sophomore Julia Mayer and freshmen Allyson DesJardins and Maddi Francisco.