Delaware Hayes Roundup: Girls basketball squad hopes to continue climb

Stephen Borgna
ThisWeek group
Junior guard Chloe Jeffers is among the key returnees for the Delaware Hayes girls basketball team, which plans to continue its annual improvement under fourth-year coach Lou Tiberi.

The Delaware Hayes girls basketball team is seeking to continue the trajectory established under fourth-year coach Lou Tiberi. 

Delaware finished 8-15 in Tiberi’s first season in 2017-18 and improved by three wins in each of the following two seasons. 

The Pacers went 11-12 in 2018-19 and finished 14-9 overall and 7-7 in the OCC-Cardinal Division last winter. They tied Olentangy Berlin for fifth in the league behind co-champions Hilliard Bradley and Worthington Kilbourne (11-3). 

Tiberi said the Pacers have their sights on 17 wins or better, improving their seeding for the Division I district tournament and winning at least one postseason game.

“We’re hoping to get up into that 17-, 18-win-type category if at all possible,” Tiberi said. “Our goal last year was to be like a top-20 team and when it came tournament time we wound up being the 18th seed, so we want to continue to push toward that top 10 when it comes to the seedings. And we want to win a tournament game. We didn’t get it last year, but we’re hoping to get a tournament win, especially for the seniors.” 

Delaware’s projected starting lineup features senior Alexis Amabile (5-foot-10, guard), juniors Chloe Jeffers (5-11, guard) and Sophia Midura (6-1, forward) and sophomores Porter Barickman (6-0, post player) and Myah Byers (5-7, point guard). 

Senior Alyssa Griner (6-0, forward) was projected to be in the starting five but is out with an injury. Tiberi said the Pacers hope Griner can return in January. 

Rounding out the roster are senior Telijah McCollum (5-8, forward), juniors Taylor Shumaker (5-7, guard) and Sophia Nice (5-8, guard) and sophomores Sara Dudley (6-0, forward) and Sam Toney (6-4, post player). 

The Pacers are scheduled to open Dec. 18 against visiting Kilbourne in an OCC-Capital game. All OCC contests have been postponed through Dec. 17.

Amabile, who averaged a team-high 13.3 points last season, ahead of Jeffers' 10.4 points, said the Pacers have the potential to reach their goals.

“We have lots of great talent and people who want to win just as bad as the next,” Amabile said. “Even though we are a fairly young team, we are looking for our younger players to give us some big minutes this year. 

“I believe that this team and the mindset we have can go very deep in the (district tournament) at the end of the season. The thing that is special about this team is we have built a culture that will do anything and everything to win.”

Sophomore guard Hezekiah Russell is one of the key players for the Pacers boys basketball team, which will need some new contributors to step up this season because of graduation losses.

Boys basketball team

hungry for success 

The boys basketball team rode a strong senior class featuring players such as Nate Griggs, Addison Harvey and Paul Burris to a Division I district final last season before falling just short of a title with a 43-40 loss to Westerville Central. 

Graduation losses have left the Pacers with a relatively young and inexperienced roster after going 15-10 overall and 8-6 in the OCC-Cardinal last winter. They tied Dublin Scioto for third in the league behind champion Bradley (14-0).

“We’ve got some youth that we’re excited for,” second-year coach Adam Vincenzo said. “We might be green in some areas, but they’ve been waiting their turn, that’s for sure.

“We might not have a lot of recognition in terms of who we’re returning, but like I said, a lot of these guys have been waiting their turn and are chomping at the bit to kind of carve their path within our program. I think we’re going to grow game by game. We’re definitely a group that’s going to play hard and we’re going to compete. We may not be the prettiest bunch at times, but we’re going to have that blue-collar mindset and get it done.” 

The Pacers are scheduled to open Dec. 18 with an OCC-Capital game at Kilbourne.

Senior Ryan Smudz, a 5-9 point guard, projects to be the leader of a roster that features three seniors, four juniors, three sophomores and two freshmen. Smudz averaged six points as a junior. 

“He’s our only returning starter and he’s a four-year guy,” Vincenzo said. “He’s definitely the rock and foundation of this year’s team.” 

Other key players include juniors Jacob Enke (6-5, forward), Jayson Enke (6-6, forward) and C.J. Holmes (5-8, guard) and sophomore Hezekiah Russell (5-10, guard). 

Rounding out the roster are seniors Jack Rodgers (6-4, forward) and Armond Rose-Miles (6-0, forward), junior Ryan Polter (6-4, forward), sophomores Anthony Wilson (6-0, guard) and Peyton Fowler (6-0, forward) and freshmen Jesse Burris (6-2, forward) and Jake Lowman (6-3, forward). 

Smudz believes the Pacers can duplicate last season’s success. 

“We are looking to replicate the type of run we went on last year but with a different result,” he said. “We believe we can compete with anyone in our league and our goal is to win the (OCC-Capital). We are also looking to capture a 2021 district title and move on from there.” 

sborgna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekSteve

BOYS BASKETBALL 

•Coach: Adam Vincenzo, second season

•Top players: Jacob Enke, Jayson Enke, C.J. Holmes, Hezekiah Russell and Ryan Smudz

•Key losses: Nabil Abdus-salaam, Paul Burris, Nate Griggs, Addison Harvey, Rajah Ishwar and Sihr Sumner

•Last season: 15-10 overall

•2019-20 OCC-Cardinal standings: Hilliard Bradley (14-0), Thomas Worthington (10-4), Delaware and Dublin Scioto (8-6), Worthington Kilbourne (6-8), Hilliard Darby and Dublin Jerome (5-9), Olentangy Berlin (0-14)

•Postseason: Defeated St. Charles 49-30; def. Pickerington Central 57-45; lost to Westerville Central 43-40 in Division I district final

GIRLS BASKETBALL 

•Coach: Lou Tiberi, fourth season 

•Top players: Alexis Amabile, Porter Barickman, Myah Byers, Alyssa Griner, Chloe Jeffers and Sophia Midura 

•Key losses: Nadine Hassan, Katie Smith, Abby Stephens and Kayla Thompson

•Last season: 14-9 overall

•2019-20 OCC-Cardinal standings: Bradley and Kilbourne (11-3), Scioto (10-4), Jerome (8-6), Delaware and Berlin (7-7), Darby (2-12), Thomas (0-14)

•Postseason: Lost to Marysville 60-42 in first round of Division I district tournament