Delta High School had not seen a boys’ basketball regional championship since the 2008-09 season. In its history, there have been three regional championships. The last time the Eagles were poised to make a regional run was the 2019-2020 season.
But the COVID-19 Pandemic hit and canceled the rest of the state tournament. Since then, the Eagles have been fighting their way to get back to regionals. And tonight, they did just that. After defeating Peru 54-47, they are the 2022-23 3A regional champions and are the fourth Delta team to do so.
“We talked about this week's unfinished business for the 2020 group,” head coach Mark Detweiler said. “You know, we needed to get it for them because they didn't get a chance. And so again, we're just locked in and it just means a lot for this group because of where they've been and how they got here.”
After winning their sectional in the New Castle Fieldhouse, their regional championship game was once again in the historic gym. The contest started off pretty competitive, but the Eagles (18-9) pulled away from Peru with a good offensive plan.
“They figured out how the extra pass and one more thing has been kind of the theme for the last six weeks,” Detweiler said. “I think they've gotten over like, hey, I need a score. Let's just find a good shot, you know, and, so they've kind of bought into it. We got to make the extra pass and we got to the second or third side. We're pretty hard to guard and we've got so many weapons.”
But going into the second quarter, their offense was not their only strength. Their defense picked up the pace and only allowed the Tigers (17-8) to score two points in the entire quarter. One Eagle that stepped it up was junior Jonny Manor. He had multiple steals and took charge calls to help give Delta the win.
“I'm not afraid to get hit,” Manor said. “Number 11, [junior Matthew Roettger] he's a really good player, and I knew that I had to step in front of him and take a couple of charges to get him in foul trouble.”
Detweiler credits his team's performance and noticed Manor’s help on defense.
“He is a fighter and that's probably the best word to describe the team,” he said. “They fight… they're never intimidated. The moments are never too big and he's a good example.”
The Eagles held a comfortable lead until the end of the game. That was when Peru cut the deficit to five in the final minutes. But completed free throws by the Eagles’ kept their lead out of reach.
Leading the charge for the Eagles on offense was junior D’Amare Hood. He ended the game with 21 points and sank four three-pointers.
With junior Jackson Wors having limited time due to some hard hits on his injured shoulder, other Eagles had to step up. That was junior Kaiden Bond. Coming off the bench, he contributed eight points and helped give the starters time to breathe.
“It's great being able to contribute to something like this, knowing that it's bigger than me and it’s for the program,” Bond said.
The Eagles will play their first semi-state game next week with their opponent and the location of the game to be announced in a draw March 12.
Contact Zach Carter with comments at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ZachCarter85.