Panthers rally past Pacers in league opener


DELAWARE – The Delaware Hayes boys basketball team held a four-point lead in the final minute, but couldn’t hold on and fell at home to Hilliard Darby 49-48 to open OCC-Cardinal play Friday night.

“(Darby) deserved that one,” Hayes coach Adam Vincenzo said. “They’re well-coached – Chris (Maul) does a phenomenal job with those guys. They play hard and they’re well-schooled. We knew it was going to be scratch and claw … it’s league play. We’re one or two plays short. We didn’t make the right plays at the right time.”

Addison Harvey drove for a basket to push the Hayes lead to 46-42 with 1:12 remaining in the game.

Darby’s Jacob Foster was fouled pulling down an offensive rebound and scored off the ensuing inbound pass. He was fouled on the basket and converted the free throw to cut the deficit to one with 50 seconds left.

Gio Roberts stole the ball in the backcourt and Blake Horvath found Nick Skelskey for the go-ahead basket underneath to give the Panthers the lead with 25 seconds left.

“A miscommunication on a screen led to an and-one and then a turnover led to them scoring another basket,” Vincenzo said. “Those little things right there … we preach the little things all the time for that reason. We’ll continue to work.”

Skelskey forced a tie-up on the other end to get Darby the ball back with a little more than 13 seconds remaining. Hayes had to foul three times to get into the bonus and 10 seconds ran off the clock.

Skelskey missed the front end of the one-and-one and, after a timeout, Harvey’s half-court heave was off the mark at the buzzer.

“We had a collection of huge plays in the last minute,” Darby coach Chris Maul said. “We had a deflection and we tied up (Paul) Burris. We didn’t call any special sets or plays – we just thought we could get some good plays in our offense.”

Paul Burris scored 12 of his game-high 26 points in the third quarter to lead the Pacers.

Neither team lead by more than seven points in the game. Josh Carney knocked down a pair of three-pointers in the first minute and a half to push Darby out to an 8-2 lead and Roberts added a third three a couple of minutes later to make it 11-4.

Hayes pulled within one point on a Drew Williams three-pointer late and trailed by three at the end of the first.

Harvey and Burris each scored baskets, Ryan Smudz hit from long range and Burris scored underneath as the Pacers built a 21-15 lead with a 9-0 start to the second quarter.

Matt Sech and Carney each knocked down threes during a 12-0 run by the Panthers to close the first half and they led 25-21 at the break.

Foster and Carney each knocked down threes down the stretch of the third quarter to give the Panthers a 36-35 lead.

Williams put-back a miss to tie it at 42 and Sihr Sumner drove for a layup to give Hayes a 44-42 lead.

Carney led the Panthers (1-1, 1-0) with 14 points, Foster added 10 points, three rebounds and a couple of assists. He scored all of his points in the second half.

Skelskey had nine points, four steals and three assists for Darby.

“After being beat by 20 points Tuesday (at Marysville) – to come back here and get a win is huge,” Maul said. “(Carney, Foster and Skelskey) are three of our guys who are great kids that do things the right way. The best thing you can see as a coach is execution in practice and then come out and do it (in a game) and I couldn’t be more proud of the effort.”

Harvey had six points, five rebounds, three assists and three steals and Smudz added five points, four assists, three rebounds and a couple of steals for the Pacers (0-3, 0-1), who were without Nate Griggs for the second straight game after suffering a knee injury in the first quarter of the opening game against Buckeye Valley.

“It’s not anybody in particular,” Vincenzo said. “Once you take away a four-year starter, an all-league player that is very skilled offensively and has been our guy for a long time – it’s tough to replace that. We’re working at it and Paul did a really good job of leading us tonight.”

Next up, Hayes continues league play Tuesday night at Dublin Scioto with a scheduled tip-off of 7:30 p.m.

Hayes’ Nabil Abdus-salaam, left, puts up a shot over a Hilliard Darby defender during the first half of Friday’s OCC showdown in Delaware.’ Nabil Abdus-salaam, left, puts up a shot over a Hilliard Darby defender during the first half of Friday’s OCC showdown in Delaware. Ben Stroup | Gazette

By Michael Rich

For the Gazette

Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichnotwealthy or contact him at [email protected].

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