Following an interview with the radio broadcasters after the championship game of the Delaware County Tournament, Yorktown head coach Matt Moulton looked down the stairs that led into the gym at Delta High School.
“It just doesn't get much better,” Moulton said. “Show me a venue tonight across the state that was better for high school basketball.”
The site of the finale was packed from the bottom section to the second level. One side was painted with blue and gold while the other was covered in green and white. Since both the girls’ and boys’ games featured Delta and Yorktown, no one left their seats after the first game concluded.
In the end, both fan bases witnessed one of their teams walk away with a trophy.
Girls’ championship: Delta (10-8) vs Yorktown (11-8)
The first championship game of the night was physical from the tip-off to the final buzzer. Steals, jump balls, and players diving for loose balls filled the entire 32 minutes.
Yet after all of it, first-year Delta head coach Ty'Ronda Benning walked out of the locker room soaked in water as the Eagles defeated the Tigers 49-38.
“I had faith in [the team] from the beginning,” Benning said. “I told them my goals for the season at the very beginning. I expected us to win the county [tournament]. I expected us to be the best team in the county and we needed to play like it.”
The game started with Yorktown senior Lily Sylvester hitting a layup less than three seconds after the opening tip. However, the Eagles would respond and the back-and-forth play continued throughout the first half.
However, the Tigers started the second quarter with momentum on offense and took an 18-11 lead. After a Delta timeout, the Eagles started to play lockdown defense. During multiple possessions, Yorktown had to pass the ball out to the top of the key to reset.
Yet to do this, the Eagles had to find ways to stop Sylvester, who still managed to lead the game with 18 total points.
“Lily is a great player and she's a great kid, too,” Benning said. “She has always been very sweet to our girls and I respect her [game].”
During the second half, the Eagles’ defensive efforts continued to be a problem for Yorktown. The green and white tried multiple things on offense, but it was to no avail. When it came to Delta’s offense, they were led by sophomore Jillian Barr with 15 points.
Behind Barr was Delta’s lone senior, Paizley Cool, who finished with 13 points. Cool missed the previous four games with a shoulder injury, and was ready to return to the court for the title game.
“It has really meant a lot [being the only senior],” Cool said. “They've grown a lot individually and we're really focused, which transformed us into playing together. We have the best cohesiveness that we've ever had and we're a really big family.”
Her leadership has been something that Benning appreciates. Yet it’s not just her ability to help her teammates that makes her stand out.
“She understands basketball and she gives us that fire,” Benning said. “She told them all, ‘Hey, we're not losing.’ And she meant it and they followed her lead.”
The win gives Delta its first Delaware County title since 2019. While it’s something that Benning and the Eagles celebrated, it’s a sign that they are traveling in the right direction.
“Winning isn't easy and a culture of winning isn't easy,” Benning said. “So with something as big as this, the girls understand they can come in and are good to go.”
Yet the community could not get enough of the Eagles posing with the trophy. Delta boys basketball head coach Mark Detweiler watched the entire game with his team and was not surprised by the result.
“Ty'Ronda [Benning] has done a tremendous job and they've got a lot of energy,” he said. “They deserve that and those are tremendous girls and they're fun to watch.”
The Eagles will attempt to keep their three-game win streak alive when they take on Jay County on Thursday, Jan. 18. The game will start at 7:30 p.m. Yorktown will look to get back into the win column when they travel to Frankton on Tuesday, Jan. 16. Tip-off is set for 7:30.
Boys’ championship: Delta (12-3) vs Yorktown (8-5)
After the Delta fans celebrated the girls’ victory, they were probably hoping the boys would follow suit. However, the Tigers decided to wreck those plans after an explosive first half led them past Delta 61-44.
“I don't want to lie and say that [that showing] has always been there,” Yorktown senior Kieran Tewari said. “But it's kind of always been there.”
The contest started similarly to the last meeting between the two Delaware County rivals on Dec. 8 as the Tigers jumped out to an early lead. Though, unlike that matchup, the Eagles showed no signs of a comeback. It seemed that the blue and gold couldn’t do anything to hinder their opponents.
“Sometimes you have to tip your hat because they shot lights out,” Detweiler said. “They hit eight threes in a row, and many of those were contested pretty well.”
During the stretch, senior Jacob Grim looked like a professional as everything that left his hands found the bottom of the hoop. He finished the first half with 12 points and finished the game with 18.
“I was just trusting my team,” Grim said. “Our coaches tell us that they believe in us all of the time. It shows that when they believe in us, good things will happen.”
At the end of the first quarter, Grim sank a jump shot at the buzzer. The Tigers did it again going into halftime as Tewari – who finished with 12 points – drilled a deep three-pointer, giving the Tigers a 40-21 lead.
The rest of the game saw more of the same as the Tigers continued to have success on the offensive side of the ball. Their ability to rebound was something that Detweiler warned his Eagles about.
“I told them [Saturday] morning that I felt Yorktown was a better rebounding team,” he said. “I thought they hit and held better in terms of the rebounding piece. And they showed that they're better than us in that area.”
Up to this point, the Tigers had hit a tough patch on their regular season schedule. To Moulton, the bigger opponents were scheduled to prepare the Tigers for matches like the championship game.
“When you've played the Andersons, the Westfields, and the Greensburgs, we've seen quite a bit coming into this tournament already,” he said. “But that doesn't diminish the fact that Wapahani and Delta were very good teams.”
With a combined record of 24-4, the Raiders and Eagles came into the tournament with the best records and were probably the favorites amongst the community. However, the Tigers didn’t care about that and showed that in high school basketball, anything can happen.
The Tigers have now been able to hoist two trophies in the last two weeks. The first was the Greenwood tournament, which was a holiday tournament that the Tigers competed in.
“That's kind of what we want and we want to get used to that,” Moulton said. “So I guess down the road, you look at sectionals as a possibility to do it again.”
To Detweiler, this is something that the Eagles needed. In fact, it might be the key to unlock their full potential.
“No one ever seeks out adversity. It’s not like you go running to it,” he said. “But that's the best part of sports. When adversity happens or things don't go your way, that’s always the most fun part to watch to see how teams or individuals respond… When it comes to you, that usually serves you well.”
The Tigers will be back in action when they head to New Castle on Friday, Jan. 19. The contest is supposed to start at 7:30 p.m. Delta will look to respond when they face Pendleton Heights on the road on Friday, Jan. 19. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m.
Contact Zach Carter with comments at email@example.com or on X@ZachCarter85.