City rallies around team


The Delaware City Schools community gathered across the city Friday to cheer on the Hayes High School boys basketball team as it prepares to compete in the 2024 Boys Basketball State Tournament this weekend.

The team won the regional title last weekend against Olentangy Orange and will compete in the state semifinals today at 5:15 p.m. at the University of Dayton.

Hayes High School Principal Rex Reeder said Thursday the school and community have been riding high this week after the team’s regional title win, and he hopes the team’s victory is inspiring to younger students.

“The energy around the school and through the community is amazing!” Reeder said. “My hope is all of the young Pacers out there see that their dreams can come true with hard work, positive team culture, and a belief in a vision of excellence. (I’m) so proud of our coaches, players, staff and community!”

Reeder said making it to the state semifinals was a “culmination of hard work, team culture and great coaching.”

“(I’m) so happy and proud of our coaches and players,” Reeder said in an email. “The support from our community has been special. Pacer Nation is ready, and St. Ignatius – you are next! Go PACERS!!”

Hayes High School Athletic Director Steve Glesenkamp said Thursday the team has never made it to the Final Four before and said “everyone is so proud” at the school.

“The student body and community have fallen in love with this team,” Glesenkamp said. “The outpouring of support and random acts of kindness from so many have energized the hallways at Hayes.”

Leslie Franklin, a fifth grade ELA teacher at Carlisle Elementary School, is particularly proud of the team, which has several of her former students.

“I was a sophomore at Hayes when the varsity basketball team last won a District Championship in 1986,” Franklin said. “Now as a teacher for DCS, I am so very excited and proud of the athletes on the team. I fondly remember watching Jesse Burris, Jake Lowman, Garrett Brown, Alex Brown and Will Sims playing basketball at recess at Carlisle. Now I get to watch them play in a state Final Four!”

Delaware City Schools Superintendent Heidi Kegley said Friday the district is “so incredibly proud” of the team and their coaches.

“They have all worked so hard all season to accomplish their goals, and they are so fun to watch,” Kegley said. “The support and encouragement they provide to each other on and off the court is second to none. They bring a high level of excitement and energy to every game. You can feel the same level of excitement in our community. We are grateful to everyone who has supported the team, and we can’t wait to see our community fill the UD Arena on Saturday evening to cheer on the Pacers.”

On Friday, the team bus was given a police escort as it passed by every building in the district before heading down to Dayton for the tournament.

Students, staff, and members of the community lined the streets to applaud, hold up signs, and wish the team luck.

At Willis Education Center, a group of Hayes High School and the former Willis High School alumni gathered to cheer for the team. Local historian and former Delaware teacher Brent Carson held a banner at the event, which he said contained the names of 800 alumni from 33 states who wanted to wish the team well.

Carson said he and others began working on writing the names on the banner two days ago and “finished about 10 minutes ago” before the parade started.

“I’ve been watching (Delaware basketball) for 73 years, and I’ve never seen anything like this team,” Carson said. “It’s been the most wonderful journey.”

Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903.

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