Sure Jay County guard Kegan Comer had not played a game in 2½ weeks owing to a right wrist injury, but that didn’t stop him from taking control in a crucial moment for his team.
With the Patriots in the surprising position of trailing Delta by one point in the final minute of Thursday’s game, Comer barreled headlong into the heart of the Eagles defense, drew a foul, and on a night when he’d only hit one of his first three attempts from the line, he calmly connected on both to put his Patriots up by a point.
Moments later, Delta’s Landon Sullivan missed a desperation 3-point heave at the buzzer, and Jay County (16-2) held on for a 50-49 victory at Delta’s gym. Comer finished with 14 points and said his choice to take the ball on that late possession was simply filling the expectations of his teammates.
“They look up to me to be a leader and step up in big times,” Comer said. “So really it was all on them. I wasn’t hitting the whole game, and I decided to step up and be a leader.”
The Patriots had led for the majority of the fourth quarter, but after Jay County’s Trey Teagle missed a shot inside with just more than a minute remaining, Delta’s Bryce Dishman grabbed the rebound and threw a long outlet pass to Sullivan, who converted a wide-open layup into a short-lived 49-48 lead.
That the game was close throughout was a surprise in itself as Jay County was on a nine-game winning streak with no victory closer than 14 points and Delta began the night a game below .500. The equalizing factor for the Eagles was eight 3-pointers, which came partially as the result of lackluster perimeter defense by Jay County.
“We felt that coming for two weeks,” Jay County coach Craig Teagle said. “We haven’t practiced very well, we didn’t play well in the first half against Blackford, Eastbrook or Yorktown, and tonight we put two halves of not-good basketball.
“They hit some shots that are not very good shots, but it doesn’t matter, they shoot those shots.”
Delta (7-9) finished with an 8-for-24 performance from beyond the arc. The Patriots were near perfect inside with only two misses on 19 attempts, but after the game, Craig Teagle said he found nothing wrong with his team’s shot selection.
Sullivan finished with 17 points and half of Delta’s 3-point attempts, but even on a night when those shots fell, they didn’t prove to be enough.
“I was very proud of our players; Jay County is the real deal,” Delta coach Stan Daugherty said.
“We battled hard, it literally came down to one play.”