Dylan Powers is a quiet kid who grew up on the basketball courts at Moravia High School, where the only stat that matters is victories.
With his own mindset and playing in a team-oriented environment, sometimes Powers needed to be reminded of his talent.
“He’s very quiet. He’s such a humble kid,” Moravia coach Todd Mulvaney said. “He’s like that to a fault, where you want him to step up. We’d always tease him, ‘Start acting like you’re the best player on the team.'”
No acting was required this season. Powers, a 6-foot-3 senior guard, was the best player on his team and far beyond.
He led Moravia to its third Section 4 Class C title during his four-year varsity career, and the Blue Devils ended up an overtime loss from an appearance in the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class C championship game.
His efforts have earned Powers the Elite 10 Boys Player of the Year honor, as selected by the staffs of the Press & Sun-Bulletin, The Ithaca Journal and the Star-Gazette in Elmira.
Powers did a lot of everything for the Blue Devils, who finished 21-3. He averaged 17.8 points, 7.6 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 3.5 steals per contest.
He ended up third in school history with 1,080 points and contributed to a staggering nine championships with Moravia capturing division, conference and sectional titles three times apiece.
Watkins Glen’s bid for an elusive sectional championship was foiled largely by Powers, who scored 22 points during a 52-41 victory in the title game. That included a bucket with 1 minute, 26 seconds left to increase the lead to five points.
“When games did get close, he was the kind of guy they would look to in those situations,” Watkins Glen coach John Fazzary said.
Powers contributed in every way. He made nearly 60 3-pointers this season, but he was also willing to mix it up inside or to dive on the court for a loose ball.
His outside touch was complemented by an ability to drive to the hole or to stop and hit a short jumper. And if none of that was available, he would find an open teammate.
Mulvaney said Powers worked a great deal on his defense, with his anticipation and basketball savvy leading to several fast-break chances.
“He’s just such a smooth player,” Mulvaney said. “He doesn’t try to do too much. Things just come to him and when he’s playing he’s just got this aura about him that’s just special. He’s a special player.”
Said Fazzary: “He’s a good defender, a good rebounder; just an all-around good player.”
Rising to the occasion
Powers made a cameo appearance on the varsity as an eighth-grader before playing full time as a freshman, helping Moravia advance to the state semifinals that season.
The Blue Devils repeated as Interscholastic Athletic Conference Small School and Section 4 Class C champions two years ago, then reclaimed both championship trophies this season.
It was not all smooth sailing though. A 67-65 loss to Dryden on Jan. 15 and 72-45 blowout at the hands of Whitney Point 10 days later provided a shock to the system.
“Those games opened our eyes and made us work every day,” Powers said.
Moravia did not lose again until the state semifinals, thanks in large part to Powers.
His sectional run was highlighted by a 20-point first half in an 85-41 semifinal victory against an Odessa-Montour team that nearly beat the Blue Devils in the IAC Small School title game less than two weeks earlier.
He finished the game with 22 points, reaching the 1,000-point milestone on the same night Mulvaney earned career win No. 100.
As the games became more meaningful and the pressure grew more intense, Powers performed at an even higher level, scoring 22.2 points per game over the final five contests.
After torching Beaver River for 26 points in the state quarterfinals, Powers was brilliant in the semifinals. He delivered 22 points, eight rebounds and five assists in Moravia’s 68-61 overtime loss to eventual champion Lake George, which needed a last-second shot in regulation to send the game to the extra period.
“You come to that point of the season where it’s coming down to the end and I think Dylan kind of realized, ‘This is my career.'” Mulvaney said. “That’s when we saw him go to the next level. It was fun to watch. We always knew he had the potential to take games over and lead us in different ways. As soon as it hit February, it just came out.”
Powers said for him and fellow seniors Sam Allen and Dylan Haskell, this was a ride they did not want to see end. Powers and several teammates would stick around after practice to work on their shots and whatever needed fine-tuning.
“All three seniors, we wanted it so bad. We did everything to get to the point where we got,” Powers said. “That whole time (during the postseason) flew by. It seems like a blur now.”
Said Mulvaney: “I think it just goes hand in hand when the leader of your team elevates his game and instills confidence in everybody else. Everybody followed Dylan’s lead from that perspective.”
‘It’s been fun’
Powers’ arm has been put to heavy use in high school, including playing quarterback in football and dominating as a pitcher in baseball.
He plans to pitch at Cortland State, though he said a lingering sore shoulder from football will likely limit him to playing second base for Moravia this spring.
But it is hard for anything to compare to the basketball experience. Not only has Moravia enjoyed a historic run, but the Devils have done so with a devoted fan base that turns out both home and away.
“It’s awesome playing those Friday night home games and the gym is packed,” Powers said. “Wherever we go, the gyms are still packed with our fans. We never play anybody that’s louder. The support from our fans is just awesome.”
Powers gave a special thank you to his two biggest fans, dad Tim and mom Bonnie, who have attended all of his games in three sports.
“It’s been fun,” he said. “Every team I’ve been on it has been enjoyable to play with them. We all work hard at practice, and coach Mulvaney is a great coach and one of the main reasons we won all those games and all those titles.
“It definitely was a heartbreaker losing at the final four. We knew we could have won that game. But like coach said, when you look at it we accomplished a lot.”