Both teams need the new year cleanse, and they couldn’t be heading in a more different direction.
It was the No. 2 consolation bracket of the Governor’s Challenge, but the game between Delmar and Stephen Decatur meant so much more to the future of the two teams.
The Wildcats were sitting at 3-2 after a day one loss to Parkdale, who went on to lose to Aberdeen on Saturday, who had beaten the Seahawks (3-4) 74-36 the day prior.
For Delmar, a win would end the year on a high note and give the Wildcats more points toward the Delaware state playoffs. The exhibition game for Decatur could give the young team confidence that has wavered during the last few games.
The more-experience team dominated as Delmar’s Shane Leatherbury and Larry Ennis combined for 54 as the Wildcats rolled to an 80-52 win.
“We had to bounce back because we couldn’t be 3-3,” Ennis said. “We’re not that type of team. We’re way better than what our record is right now.”
The Wildcats (4-2) did just that with a mixture of defense, timely shooting and plenty of layups.
Delmar dominated the boards, out-rebounding Decatur 22-19, but the key was the 16 offensive rebounds that gave the Wildcats’ big three, Ennis, Leatherbury and Kavon Trader, more shots.
To further the Wildcats’ advantage, Delmar knocked down 18 of 26 free throws, including 11 of 13 in the second half where they pulled away.
The difference between Friday and Saturday for Wildcats’ head coach Tim Velasco was the team’s ability to work together.
“Teamwork — It was 100 percent teamwork,” he said. “We have a gift that is also a curse that we have three guys that are exceptional scorers. There’s only one ball out there and at times, guys feel they’re pressed and need to get it all back on one play. Today, we really focused on the pass. … From doing that, it was evident, they were getting open shots.”
Plays like Leatherbury’s quarterback-like full-court pass to Ennis to end the first quarter wasn’t something that Decatur could stop. It gave the Wildcats a 21-10 advantage after one quarter.
In the second, it was all Leatherbury and Ennis as the two combined for most of the Wildcats’ points.
Including when Ennis made two layups with a nice assist in between that was followed up by Leatherbury’s back-to-back drives and layups including an and-one.
Delmar guard Shane Leatherbury reaches into his quarterback background to gun a pass down court against Stephen Decatur during the Governors Challenge on Saturday at the Wicomico County Youth and Civic Center.
At half, Decatur was down 17 and Kevin Land heated up to try and get Decatur back in it.
Land hit two 3-pointers in the third, to help Decatur claw back, but Ennis or Leatherbury would answer every time.
Decatur continued to have a lack of fluidity, turning the ball over 19 times and registering just six assists.
Head coach B.J. Johnson left early after the game and was not available. But his sentiment would probably have remained the same after another big loss.
The Seahawks are young — even another coach on the sideline admitted that. Losses like this will help them and the coaching staff will continue to drill the Seahawks.
After being sluggish at some points, Decatur was a little bit more fired up and Johnson will be happy to see that.
Land finished with 13 points and Eley didn’t register a point in the second half and finished with six. When Ennis, Leatherbury and Trader drop 26, 24 and 10, respectively, the Seahawks had no chance.
The Seahawks will be happy to get back to the Bayside schedule.
As for the Wildcats, there is a lot of promise in 2015.
Ennis said when Delmar plays like they did Saturday afternoon, no one can beat them.
But for Velasco, it is staying within the system and continuing to play as a team.
“What different intensity today, guys were fired up,” he said. “The guys played a lot harder. I think they were a little intimidated yesterday to be honest. A different team, bigger than us and Parkdale has a really good squad. … I think we got a little shell-shocked with that and went too much one-on-one away from our concepts.”
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