Friday night’s conference rivalry game between Cowan and Daleville had everything from a full crowd and a homecoming celebration to a loud atmosphere and the Blackhawks’ first victory over their rival in four years.
The game was back and forth the whole way up until a 6-0 run late in the fourth quarter that allowed the Blackhawks to claim a 51-42 win and improve to 4-4 (1-1 MEC) for the season. Cowan has now won four games in a row after starting the season off 0-4.
“Early on, we had some growing pains,” Cowan head coach Lee Ingles said. “We’ve been moving some people around and getting them in the right spots as well as being more comfortable and getting the ball inside to Riley [Duncan] at the right times. We’ve been working hard, and it’s just starting to come together finally.”
Duncan could not be stopped in the post against the Broncos. He was the Blackhawks’ go-to man on several occasions and finished with a game-high 29 points.
“It feels really good knowing my teammates trust me that I can get the ball out to all of our shooters,” Duncan said.
Duncan’s presence in the paint also opened up many opportunities for the rest of the Blackhawks, as juniors Logan Byrd and Jacob Thomas and senior Simon Underwood found and made open looks throughout the game, combining for 19 points.
“Every time [Duncan] gets a touch in practice and someone has to double him, that leaves one of our shooters open or someone cutting the back-door lane,” Ingles said. “It just opens everything up.”
The major turning point of the game, Ingles said, was his team’s lack of turnovers in the second half.
“We had eight or nine turnovers off the press in the first half that led to easy baskets for them,” Ingles said. “We did a much better job splitting the defense and moving the ball around, and that was the difference.”
For Daleville, sophomore Tim Arnold led the way with 17 points. Sophomore Camden Leisure and juniors Cayden Gothrup and Trevion Johnson added a combined 23.
Daleville falls to 4-8 (1-5 MEC) for the season and will look to turn things around in the Delaware County Tournament against Yorktown Wednesday. Cowan will be looking for its fifth win in a row against winless Eastbrook at home.