Mark DeLaney doesn’t know where the past decade has gone.
The years have rushed by, as they so often do.
Before he was the athletic director and boys basketball coach at Fredericktown, DeLaney was a sharpshooting guard at Clear Fork. He led the Colts to a Division III state championship his senior year, earning the tournament MVP award along the way.
That was in March of 2002.
As DeLaney and the Freddies prepare for what they hope will be an extended tournament run, the coach couldn’t help but look back on that magical three-week stretch.
“The thing about the tournament is the ball needs to bounce your way,” DeLaney said. “There are just so many variables. You need the officiating to go your way. You need to stay healthy.
“Luck favors the prepared, but there are a lot of things that are out of your control.”
Every successful tournament run includes at least one game in which the basketball fates look favorably upon the winning team. For Clear Fork, that game was a 57-55 win over Elyria Catholic in the regional final.
“We were tied with five seconds left. There was a ball that went out of bounds and nobody knew who it went off of. My uncle swears it went off (Clear Fork teammate) Brennan Bartrum, but to this day I don’t know who touched it last,” DeLaney said. “We were awarded possession and Rich Hoover found Jason Stillion, who hit the game-winning shot.
“That is the one play during the entire tournament run that really sticks out in my mind.”
The Freddies (17-3) hope to create some memories of their own beginning later this month. Fourth-seeded Fredericktown will host No. 18 seed Northmor in a sectional semifinal at 7 p.m. Feb. 23.
The Central District adopted a new format this winter, allowing the higher seeded team to host a sectional semifinal before shifting to neutral sites.
Fredericktown and Northmor met at Northmor in late December, with the Freddies rolling to a 63-48 win.
“As a staff we sat down before the tournament draw and had some simulations and everything turned out about how we thought it would,” DeLaney said. “I actually prefer playing a team we have already seen from a scouting and game plan perspective.”
Fredericktown won the Mid-Buckeye Conference championship behind the play of do-it-all senior Ryan Logan. The 6-foot-6 swingman is averaging 22.8 points, 11 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.8 steals a game.
“Any time you have a player like Ryan, you feel good about your chances,” DeLaney said. “But you’re two quick fouls away from a completely different game.”
Two of the area’s other Central District representatives, Division II Highland and Division III Mount Gilead, will be in action Feb. 23. The Scots open sectional play at No. 3 seed Granville, while Mount Gilead meets Johnstown.
Cardington got a first-round bye and will play either Columbus Academy or East Knox at 7 p.m. Feb. 27 at a site to be determined.
In the Northeast District, Hillsdale and Loudonville will return to the rugged Wooster sectional/district. The Falcons play Elyria Catholic in a first-round game Feb. 26 while the Redbirds meet Norwayne Feb. 27.
Mapleton will play Dalton in the Division IV sectional semifinals Feb. 25 at Garfield Heights.