Cowan, Yorktown advance in Delaware Co. boys hoops tournament
By DOUG ZALESKI
It might have been easy for Cowan get down on itself two weeks into the boys basketball season. The Blackhawks lost their first four games, falling by an average of 26.5 points a game. All of the losses were inflicted by opponents that have a .500 record or better halfway through January.
But since that opening stretch, the Blackhawks have won six consecutive games. Coach Lee Ingles can see an attitude building within his team.
“Everybody is playing with confidence now,” he said.
That was especially apparent in the opening game of the Delaware County boys basketball tournament Wednesday night at Delta.
Led by the unstoppable play inside of 6-foot-10 center Riley Duncan, the Blackhawks center. He stuffed the box score with a season-high 30 points, 13 rebounds and 7 blocked shots to spearhead a 59-46 victory over Wes-Del.
The other first-round game resulted in a 58-37 victory by Yorktown over Daleville.
Duncan’s presence was felt early for Cowan (6-4).
“He was dominant in the first half,” Ingles said. “We slid him up (to the high post) to be an outlet against their trap, and he didn’t score as much in the second half, but his presence makes everybody better.”
Wes-Del (5-6) didn’t double team Duncan with as much intensity as some teams have this year, instead opting to vigorously guard the perimeter to make entry passes to the past more difficult.
But Cowan couldn’t be slowed down. Duncan, a junior who was hobbled by injuries the past two seasons, made 14-of-19 field-goal attempts and altered at least as many of the season-best 7 shots he blocked on defense.
His shot-blocking ability allows teammates to play more aggressively on defense because they know Duncan is there to help them out if opponents get into the lane on drives. Ingles said Duncan’s blocks tend to be memorable.
“They’re loud when he does it,” Ingles said.
Duncan said he perhaps didn’t get doubled in the post as much because of the improvement shown by Cowan’s perimeter shooters.
“If only one person is guarding me, I’l’ try to get up a shot, but if I’m being double teamed, I’ll get the ball to other guys because somebody is usually wide open,” he said. “We complement each other well.”
Cowan held the lead throughout, but Wes-Del cut its deficit to 46-41 with 4 minutes remaining in the game. The Blackhawks scored the next 11 points as four players contributed in the run to build the cushion to 57-41 with 1:23 left in the game.
“That’s what (Duncan’s) presence does, and we have other guys who can make shots or get to the basket,” Ingles said. “When teams over help on him we have guys who can get into the lane and finish inside.”
Simon Underwood contributed 9 points and 9 rebounds for the Blackhawks, and Jacob Thomas had 9 points and 5 assists.
Caeden McClaughry led Wes-Del with 10 points.
Cowan moved onto Friday’s semifinals at Delta, where it will face Wapahani (9-2) at 6 p.m.
The second opening-round game Wednesday wasn’t close as Yorktown (6-6) jumped ahead of Daleville 23-9 in the first 15 minutes on the way to a 58-37 victory.
Tigers coach Matt Moulton said his team is still a work in progress, “but if you can be flawed and still win by 21 that’s a good thing.”
The Tigers led 28-14 at halftime and were never threatened in the second half as it showed a strong ability to drive to the basket against the Broncos (4-9).
Yorktown’s athletic lineup showed its potential for the second half of the season.
“We have some weapons to put some spurts together,” Moulton said. “But we also are capable of letting spurts happen. We’ve worked hard on minimizing those runs.
“It’s amazing how the game of basketball always gravitates back to fundamentals.”
Luke Dunn sparked Yorktown’s offense with 27 points, his second-highest total of the season. MiLon McCowan added 12 points.
Sophomore Tim Arnold led Daleville with a career-best 25.
Yorktown is looking forward to another game against Delta (7-2) at 8 p.m. Friday. The Eagles beat the Tigers 62-42 on Dec. 13.
“Delta crushed us the first time, and to be the best you have to beat the best,” Moulton said. “We want to play Delta, and I hope they’re looking forward to playing us.”
The semifinal winners will play for the championship at 8 p.m. Saturday at Delta. The Eagles have won the past four titles.