It was a packed house on Friday night as a highly anticipated matchup between Delta (13-4) and Wapahani (14-2) was getting set for tip-off. Two of the top teams in the county squared off on the hardwood; in the end, it was Delta taking home the win 57-44.
It was tough sledding early on for Wapahani on the offensive end of the floor. The Eagles' defense was smothering and forcing the Raiders into long possessions, and making them work for everything.
“Our guys have played a lot of basketball,” Wapahani head coach Matt Luce said. “But I don’t think they were ready for Deltas’ tough defense.”
Offensively the white and gold seemed to have everything going their way with shots falling early and often, and held a 14-5 lead at the end of the first quarter.
“We had a good inside-out approach to our offense, made the extra pass, and played off our post feeds [really] well,” Delta head coach Mark Detweiler said.
The offensive struggles early on for the Raiders haven’t been something they’ve gotten accustomed to this season, however, those struggles didn’t last long.
The black and red opened up the second quarter on a 5-0 run after forcing a couple of turnovers. Delta seemingly went into cruise control after the opening quarter having multiple self-inflicted wounds to allow Wapahani to find their footing in the game.
“We made extra passes,” Luce said. “We were aggressive attacking their pressure, and we made the right play hitting shooters and finishing at the rim.”
Delta was able to stifle the run made by Wapahani in the second after the Raiders made a run to tie the game at seventeen.
The Eagles kept it together just enough offensively to be able to keep the Raiders at a distance with a 25-19 lead going into the break.
“Our offensive execution got better,” Detweiler said. “We got the right guys touches, and found good screening action for Jackson [Wors].”
The second half was a different type of game compared to the first. Both squads maintained their strides offensively, and it was a shoot-out for much of the half.
Wapahani, with their potent offensive capability, thrives in the fast-paced, shoot-out style game.
“We want to be playing aggressive and attack,” Luce said. “But we also pride ourselves on being able to play fast or slow.”
For much of the game, Delta senior Jonny Manor drew the defensive assignment of guarding star guard Isaac Andrews for the Raiders. Limiting Andrews is a tall task, but a task which Manor attacked with pride.
“He’s really good,” said Manor. “He uses his shot fake a lot and coach was telling us to stay down. You know he’s going to get his, but you’ve just got to make it tough on him on the catch.”
During the second half, everyone was getting involved offensively for Delta. The Eagles ended the game with five players hitting double-digits.
The ball movement was a heavy emphasis in practice for the white and gold before this game.
“We worked on moving the ball,” Manor said. “We constantly have five good guys on the court, and we know D’Amare [Hood] and Jackson [Wors] are going to be the main focus and they did a good job of spreading the ball and we hit those shots.”
Wapahani was able to keep the game close for much of the second half with their shot-making ability, and leaning on Andrews offensively, who ended with a game-high 17 points.
The defense for the black and red was much improved from the first half allowing them to claw their way back and maintain within striking distance.
“I really thought at times we played great defense until the last minute or so,” Luce said. “It came down to finding ways to make tough shots.”
The Raiders were unable to connect on those tough shots late which proved to be the difference. Delta was able to pull away down the stretch with excellent ball security and shot-making to put the game away in the latter minutes.
With the win, Delta improves to 13-4 on the season and will be back in action on Jan. 27 as they travel to Mt. Vernon (9-7). Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m.
Waphani drops only their second game of the season and falls to 14-2. The Raiders will be on the road to take on Cowan (4-8) on Feb. 1 at 7:30 p.m.
Contact David Moore with comments at email@example.com or on X @gingninj63