MUNCIE – In a tight game Tuesday against a suddenly feisty opponent, one could see Delta’s boys basketball team getting back to what it does best.
Feed the bigs.
The Eagles had seen Wes-Del erase a nine-point lead when they tossed the ball inside to 6-foot-7 center Matt Norris in the opener of the Delaware County Tournament. He finished through contact and sparked an eight-point run to send the Eagles on to a 61-52 win and a semifinal meeting Friday with Cowan.
“We just had to calm down and don’t get in a run game with them because that’s what they like to play,” Norris said.
Norris played a central role in the approach for Delta (3-8), as the team starts him and hefty, 6-foot-4 post Kaleb Slaven. The Warriors (4-6) have no one taller than 6-foot-3, and they are more inclined to play on the perimeter.
The Eagles opened the game with Norris (25 points, 10-for-11 shooting) overwhelming inside, scoring the team’s first nine points. The only time Delta couldn’t play bigger was late in the first half when both posts had two fouls, much to the chagrin of coach Ryan VanSkyock.
Just being on the court was a welcome change for Norris, who was suspended for the first five games for breaking team rules. He called it a “dumb” mistake, adding he was just happy to be out on the court with teammates once more.
The Warriors responded by pressuring the Eagle guards, trying to create issues before the ball could enter the post. Their rally, a 15-4 run capped by a 3 from forward Sutter Foster (13 points) early in the fourth, came on what coach John McGlothin described as good ball movement. It also helped when the likes of Bryce Marsh (12 points) hit a twisting buzzer-beater at the end of the third.
But they had some trouble getting caught in the emotion when they finally pulled ahead.
“Honestly, our program is taking steps in the right direction,” said McGlothin, noting there are obvious differences when a Class A roster faces a 3A foe. “We lost eight seniors last year. For us to be able to compete, take the lead late, we didn’t know how to play with the lead.”
Those same words could apply to a Delta squad still very much learning the ways of a new coach. After the game, VanSkyock pointed to several spots where the team needs to improve to take advantage of its talents.
The team still has deadeye senior shooter Kameron Slaven (18 points on 7-for-9 shooting) and has worked Norris in after the suspension.
So Tuesday, the Eagles looked a bit closer to the image they want, and sticking to it will be vital if they aim to continue the quest for a county crown.
“We’re awful young,” VanSkyock said.
“Our guards are inexperienced delivering post passes, so we’ve worked a lot on that, but we’ve still got to do a better job because there’s not very many people in the area that have 6-7 and 6-4 inside. We feel like that’s our advantage.”
Contact sports writer Ben Breiner at 213-5848. Follow him on Twitter @BenBreinerTSP.