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  • Jason Zaleski

WAPAHANI PLAYS WITH BETTER EFFORT, FALLS SHORT VS DELTA

Wapahani plays with better effort but falls short vs. Delta


By DOUG ZALESKI

There’s no good way to lose an athletic competition, but there are ways to feel better about the final outcome.


Take Wapahani’s 59-38 loss to Delta in the championship game of the Delaware County boys basketball tournament two weeks ago. The result didn’t sit well with Raiders coach Matt Luce.


“We didn’t lose right in the county tournament,” he said. “There’s a way to win and a way to lose, and if you have to lose, you have to go down fighting. We lost in the county tournament pouting and worrying about ourselves.”


Wapahani had a chance at revenge on Friday night in the same Delta gym where it stumbled hard against the Eagles in the county. The result in the rematch wasn’t what the Raiders wanted as they fell 54-43, but they came away with a better feeling about their performance.


Luce saw a more determined effort from his players in the second game. They showed a better attitude and toughness. They were hurting in the locker room after the game.

Wapahani (11-4) fell behind 31-19 at halftime, but bounced back with authority in the second half.


“We expect a lot from these guys, and sometimes they care too much and get caught up in what the scoreboard says instead of just playing hard and fighting and trying to do their best,” Luce said.



“In the first half, we were kind of watching the scoreboard and pouting a little bit. We showed a lot of team togetherness and fight in the second half, and that’s why we made it a ballgame.”


A fastbreak layup by Drew Luce and two free throws by Evan Rausch brought Wapahani within 39-35 after three quarters.


The Raiders fell behind by nine points with 5:20 left in the game but rallied as Braxton Davis hit a 3-pointer and Caleb Henderson scored on an offensive rebound to close their deficit to 46-42 with 4:40 to play.


“In the county tournament, we got down by nine and acted like the game was over,” Luce said. “Games change, and it did tonight. We kept cutting the deficit tonight.”

While Wapahani came out of the game feeling good after the way it rallied, Delta felt the opposite.


Eagles coach Mark Detweiler credited the Raiders for their disciplined play after halftime, but he was disappointed with how his team handled its lead. He said his players were out for themselves in the second half. “We were calling stuff in timeouts and then taking the floor and it was like, ‘I’m going to run what I want to run. It’s going to be all about me,’ ” Detweiler said. “When we play through each other, share the ball, and make the extra pass, we’re pretty darn good. If we deviate from that, we’ll be pretty average. That sums up the second half.”


Delta regrouped to outscore Wapahani 8-1 in the final 1:30 to secure the victory and improve to 11-3. The Eagles were 6-for-6 at the free-throw line in the final 16 seconds.

Detweiler said he’ll be interested to see how his team responds Saturday night in a Hoosier Heritage Conference game at Mount Vernon.


“A couple times this year we haven’t gotten deep enough in our offense,” he said. “We love to push the ball and we love the open-floor stuff, but when it’s not there in transition you have to understand a different pace.”


Sam Cox and Conner Bedwell each scored 13 points to lead the Eagles.

Rausch paced Wapahani with 13 (seven in the third quarter) and Tre Spence added 11.

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