Coming down to the final week of action, the Delhi High (7-3) boys varsity basketball team looked to make a final push for a postseason berth in their penultimate home contest on Tuesday night as they took down third-place Gustine (5-5) in a thrilling 47-43 victory.
“We knew it was going to be significant, everybody was looking on Maxpreps for the standings and everybody knew what this game meant,” said Delhi head coach Eugene Drummond. “But really this boils down to winning basketball games and it was a good job with our team.”
Unlike Gustine, the Delhi Hawks were attacked differently; they had approximately seven players battling the flu bug Drummond stated.
This did not stop the emerging young Hawks, who with only one senior, have taken the SAL by storm this season peaking in second place, now two games ahead of third place Gustine, with only two games remaining.
“Since were battling the flu bug, which it barely hit us recently for the first time all year and it was good to see them fighting through it and persevere,” Drummond said.
The Hawks definitely fought through it as they began the game with perhaps one of the poorest performances all year long, turning the ball over 10 times in the first 10 minutes of play and playing out of rhythm. They played lost.
The Hawks found themselves down by as many as 13 points in the second quarter but luckily a rare four-point play from junior Arnold Perez, with one second left, cut the lead to single digits at 17-26 heading into the half and coach Drummond knew they were exactly where he wanted to be.
“In the first half we were a little sloppy. You could really tell we were so off and something wasn’t right because normally we don’t turn the ball over as much as we did,” he said. “But we did have the tempo where we wanted it. It was a fast game and we knew that their guards were getting tired as well.”
With the help of the leading scorer of the night, Adolfo Morales (19) the Gustine Redskins stayed in the game for the most part until losing the lead early in the fourth quarter.
Delhi had put together a 15-7 run in the third quarter and cut the lead to only one point before regulating the fourth and final quarter.
“For these young kids it’s good to see if they can keep going and support the team so it was good to see them take that next step because they played hard all the way through,” Drummond said. “I think tonight they learned to trust the system, this group as a whole is the first real win.”
Delhi went on a 15-10 surge in the final quarter to win the game as the lone senior — Dallas Gregor—became the quiet hero of the night after scoring six of his seven points in the fourth quarter alone, including four of the team’s final six points to win the game.
“Gustine plays us hard every time,” Drummond said. “I saw we are rivals on Maxpreps and we just grinded it out, getting people tired on our court, it’s a big advantage, and even when you have a good night shooting you find ways to win and that’s what we try to do and tonight was the first time.”
Arnold Perez was the leading scorer of the night (11) while Jose Cruz added on 10 points and Chance Browning finished with seven.
Delhi has now assured themselves at least a third place tie in a worst case scenario but can secure their second place position with a victory on Friday night against Orestimba.
Delhi will host Orestimba at 7:15 p.m. Friday.
“A win against Orestimba gets us in the playoffs and of course everybody wants to make the postseason,” Drummond added. “However, our approach this year has been to just get better every game because it’s a long road to get to where we want to go.”