Delhi High's boys basketball team pulled double duty on Thursday. First they put their brains to the test for finals, then they kicked off the Denair Holiday Classic with a game against Linden High.
The cramped schedule caused a late start to the game and tournament, but Linden stayed warm during the wait and brought the heat to Delhi after tip-off. Riding an in-your-face defense and a pass-happy offense, the Lions (5-3) beat the Coyotes (1-5) and advanced to the second round of Denair's tournament with a 56-44 win.
“Linden played harder than us tonight, and they deserved to win,” Delhi head coach Eugene Drummond said.
Delhi scored the first points of the game with a trey but Linden responded with a 14-point run. The Lions controlled the paint on offense while their defense made life hard for the Hawks. Linden defenders routinely swatted and intercepted passes and prevented Delhi from operating its offense, forcing the Hawks to draw traveling and double-dribble calls.
The Hawks entered halftime down 16-28.
“It's been a trend all season. We've got four sophomores who play varsity, five juniors and one senior. Sometimes we're going to struggle,” Drummond said.
Delhi's offense narrowed the gap with Linden with five treys in the second half, all of which were scored by Chance Browning, but were ultimately unable to muster a comeback win.
“If you shoot enough shots you're going to make some. He took a lot of shots tonight and he made some, he got into rhythm,” Drummond said of Browning. “That's what happens with young players. It takes young players a little while to settle in. We've been falling behind early and then making runs later on in the game.”
Browning finished with 19 points while teammate Mario Moran notched 10 points. Linden finished with 13 steals.
Though its players struggled on the court on Thursday, Delhi is expected to fare better in today's leg of the Denair Holiday Classic. Team leader Jose Cruz, who missed Thursday's game, will be back on the court and the coach and players won't have to worry about finals. The Hawks will have to worry about the Eagles of Turlock Christian High, however, as the former SAL opponents will meet at 3:30 p.m.
“We'll be fine tomorrow,” Drummond said.