By DOUG ZALESKI
Yorktown flipped the script against Delta on Friday after losing two regular-season games by a total of 48 points. The Tigers tossed a defensive look at the Eagles that held them to their lowest point total in the past 22 games.
Though Yorktown scrambled Delta’s pace on offense, it wasn’t enough to pull off an upset.
Delta scored just 23 points in the final three quarters in the semifinals of the Class 3A New Castle Sectional and that was good enough to come away with a 39-29 victory to earn a berth in the championship game against Hamilton Heights.
“That’s just how Indiana high school basketball goes,” Delta junior forward Brady Hunt said of the grinder pace that turned the second half into a slow halfcourt contest. “When the tournament comes around everybody is fighting for their lives, and it’s not always going to be pretty.
“The important thing is we found a way to win and (Saturday) we have a chance to cut down the nets.”
Delta (19-4) won its eighth straight game.
Yorktown (11-14) fell behind 16-5 after the first quarter and trailed by eight points at halftime. So in the second half, Tigers coach Matt Moulton turned to a defense that included man-to-man coverage on four of Delta’s players, leaving point guard Zach Garner unguarded, and letting 6-foot-3 center JJ Evans patrol the lane.
The pressure limited Delta’s 3-point field-goal opportunities, and Yorktown covered Garner only when he came into the lane or drove to the baseline.
“You have to try everything against a team like that,” Moulton said. “It was all predicated on their personnel and our matchups. We wanted to get on their shooters. If they wanted to bring it in against JJ … we took four charges.”
Yorktown trimmed the Delta lead to just six points with 2:58 left in the third quarter. Luke Dunn and AJ Dunn each hit a 3-pointer in the fourth quarter as the deficit was whittled to five points at 32-27 with 1:57 to play.
But that was as close as Yorktown would get. Hunt scored Delta’s final seven points - all at the free throw line in the final 58 seconds - to secure his team’s victory.
Delta coach Mark Detweiler said his team’s offense became stagnant against the Yorktown defense.
“Our movement was not very good at times, but you give (Yorktown) credit,” he said. “They turned it into a grinder. We’ve seen it before because our point guard doesn’t shoot a lot. So we countered that by moving him on the baseline, and he got some shots around the bucket.
“But our movement wasn’t there. … Our other guys ball-watched too much. We’ll clean that up.”
Hunt led Delta’s offense with 22 points, including all 11 of the Eagles’ points in the final quarter. Garner got eight of his 10 points in the first half.
“I just tried to find space and move off the ball, create for teammates and get a few pullups in there,” Hunt said. “Just do whatever I could to get the ball in the hoop.”
The championship game between Delta and Hamilton Heights (16-8), which beat Jay County 70-44 in Friday’s other semifinal, will be at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Delta beat Hamilton Heights 44-26 on Dec. 14.
OTHER SECTIONAL RESULTS
Delta will join four other Delaware County schools in search of sectional championships on Saturday night.
CENTRAL 60, RICHMOND 54
Central (11-13) moved into the title game of its own Class 4A sectional tournament by beating Richmond. The Bearcats lost by three points to the Red Devils in the regular season.
Central took a one-point lead into the fourth quarter and then outscored Richmond 14-9.
KJ Jackson led the Bearcats with 16 points, and Dylan Stafford had 15 (all in the second half). Jayden Long scored nine, Iverson Pointer had eight points and 11 rebounds, and Victor Young had eight points and nine rebounds. Pointer and Young combined for eight offensive rebounds.
Central will play New Palestine (13-12) in the championship game at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
WAPAHANI 64, ALEXANDRIA 59
The Raiders won for the eighth time in the past nine games to secure a spot in the Class 2A Alexandria Sectional championship game.
Four Wapahani players scored in double figures: Drew Luce led with 19 points (8 rebounds), Tre Spence had 16 (6 rebounds), Evan Rausch 14 points and Braxton Davis 11. Caleb Henderson had six rebounds.
Wapahani (19-5) will play Frankton for the title at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. The Raiders beat the Eagles 43-42 on Dec. 28.
COWAN 52, DALEVILLE 51
Simon Underwood erupted for a career-high 28 points to help Cowan (13-10) eke out a one-point victory against Wes-Del. Riley Duncan added 11 points, 15 rebounds and seven blocked shots.
Daleville (10-13) advanced to the championship game by beating Liberty Christian 50-42 in the other semifinal game.
Cowan and Daleville will play for the title at 7 p.m. Saturday. The Blackhawks beat the Broncos 51-42 Jan. 10.