Jason Delaney made his return to Tech for the first time as Cathedral’s coach on Saturday night, guiding the top-seeded Irish to a 64-62 win over Howe in a City tournament semifinal game.
Delaney, who led Tech to two City tournament titles and the Class 4A state championship in 2014, will return to Tech on Monday when Cathedral (10-5) plays Manual (12-1) for the City championship.
There are reminders everywhere in Tech’s gym of Delaney’s five-year tenure with the Titans, including 2014 state championship team photo and Trey Lyles’ IndyStar Mr. Basketball jersey hanging from the rafters.
“I’d be lying if I said it doesn’t hit home when you look up and see all the things we accomplished with a great group of kids,” Delaney said. “It has that emotion. You also remember the last game you played here (a 77-55 loss to Lawrence Central in last year’s sectional) and getting smacked a little bit. But it’s home. It’s good to come back home.”
Delaney’s first season at the helm for the Irish has been up and down, though the five opponents they’ve lost to (Fort Wayne North Side, Warren Central, Danville, Lawrence North and Carmel) are a combined 61-12.
Howe, a team that should be a state title contender again in Class 2A after making it to the state finals last year, never trailed Cathedral until late in the third quarter and held a four-point lead with a little more than six minutes left in the game.
The Irish got a big lift from senior Tra Landers, who sparked a 10-0 run. The Irish never trailed again. Landers scored all 17 of his points in the second half but his biggest contributions may have been his energy and confidence against an experienced, tough opponent.
“He just started attacking,” Delaney said of Landers. “Tra’s been to two City championships and come up short. So we’ve been talking about, ‘What legacy do you want to leave?’ This is their last go-round. I think that might have kicked in a little bit. He was huge in that second half.”
James Franklin, a sophomore guard, kept Cathedral afloat with 18 of his 23 points in the first half. Landers scored his first basket on the first possession of the second half.
“After I scored my first two points, I felt like I could get to the rim a little bit more,” Landers said. “(Franklin) was big in the first half. I tell him all the time he’s going to be good. I think he’ll be a Junior All-Star next year. He’s kind of streaky but if he gets to feeling it, he’s really good.”
• More on Manual: Cathedral’s opponent on Monday will be riding high after a sensational finish on Saturday. Courvoisier McCauley’s 30-foot shot at the buzzer gave Manual an 80-78 win over third-seeded Crispus Attucks in a potential Class 3A Sectional 27 preview (where Brebeuf Jesuit is the defending sectional champion).
Manual hasn’t played in the City championship since 1998, when it upset favored Cathedral 50-46 in the semifinals and knocked off Northwest in a 54-53 thriller in the championship under coach Pack Craig. Manual’s only other championship appearance after 1961 came in 1983, when it defeated Arlington 61-58 for the title.
This will be Manual’s eight appearance in the City championship, a tournament that dates to the 1929-30 season. By contrast, this will be Cathedral’s eighth appearance since 2007.
McCauley is averaging more than 30 points a game (he had 24 on Saturday), but the Redskins have plenty of other weapons. Jalen Johnson, a 6-7 sophomore, had 22 points and nine rebounds in the win over Attucks. Cameron Sembly, a 6-6 senior, is averaging almost 14 points and more than six assists and senior T.J. Waldon, a North Central transfer, adds more muscle to the frontcourt. Jaron Glenn, a 6-7 senior, had 12 points on Saturday.
Opportunities like Monday don’t come around often for Manual. McCauley said the Redskins will be ready.
“We have to put this (Attucks) game behind us now,” he said. “We have to keep pushing. It’s going to be a big night on Monday.”
• Back in time: How is this for symmetry? Jarron Coleman, a 6-5 junior and Cathedral’s leading scorer, will attempt to lead the Irish past Manual on Monday. Coleman’s father, also named Jarron Coleman, made the game-winning shot in Manual’s last City title in 1998. Coleman scored 16 points and made the game-winning shot on a baseline drive with 39 seconds left in a 54-53 win over Northwest.
The older Coleman also keyed Manual’s semifinal upset of Cathedral in the ’98 tourney with 14 points and nine rebounds.
“He doesn’t stop talking about it,” the younger Coleman said.
• News and notes: Tough news for Roncalli, which will be without senior guard Christian Stewart for the remainder of the season. Stewart, a 6-foot Marian University recruit, injured his left ankle in last week’s 48-41 Marion County tournament semifinal loss to Pike. Stewart’s ankle was re-examined and diagnosed as a break, ending his season. The Rebels are 1-2 without Stewart, splitting games with New Palestine and Center Grove over the weekend. … I watched the video of McCauley’s shot probably a dozen times. The reaction of Manual coach Donnie Bowling is the best part. Bowling jumps in the air and takes off running into the mass of Manual players and fans on the court. I wrote in Sunday’s column that it looked like Jimmy Valvano in 1983 after Lorenzo Charles’ buzzer-beater. The difference was Bowling found somebody to hug more quickly than Valvano. … Class 3A Sectional 27 is going to be a bear. Manual, Attucks and Brebeuf Jesuit are three of the best 3A teams in the state. Attucks senior Nike Sibande put on a show in the second half on Saturday with 19 of his 28 points. … Keep an eye on Beech Grove. The Hornets defeated Danville 67-63 on Saturday, their first win over the Warriors since Feb. 6, 1959. Beech Grove (9-5) has also ended long droughts against Southport (last win was 1975) and Franklin Central (last win was 1995) this season.
Call Star reporter Kyle Neddenriep at (317) 444-6649.