The Delaware Christian boys basketball team has been in the thick of the MOCAL race more than a few times in recent years.
The Eagles won all but one league game three years ago and picked up another nine wins the next season. Now, with last year’s 6-6 showing behind them, they’re poised to get back to their winning ways.
“This is probably the most talented team I’ve had in my past five years at DCS,” Delaware Christian coach Jon Landrum said. “But we’re extremely small and play a very challenging schedule. There will probably be games where we play well and lose because our opponent has such a dramatic size advantage.
“That’s out of our control, though. So, we’re not going to worry about it. As long as we compete as hard as we can — and we do it together — we’re going to be successful.
Another reason for the optimism is experience.
“We’re bringing back five guys who’ve started a combined 100 games between them,” Landrum said. “They’re a tight group that’s played together a lot … and they all lead in their own way.”
The five include seniors Curtis Bean (9.3 points per game, 3.8 rebounds per game in 2017-18), Jon Walter (1.9 steals per game last season) and Ike Hedges (1.9 steals per game), junior Pryce Johnson (11.6 points per game, 6.9 rebounds and 1.5 steals) and sophomore Nathan Stewart (10.4 points per game).
“Curtis figured it out midway through last season and became a really consistent two-way player,” Landrum said. “Jon is the smallest guy on the team, but has the biggest heart and won’t back down from anyone or anything.
“Ike played through injury last season and was nowhere near 100 percent, but is healthy now — he’s one of the quickest players I’ve coached and is a nightmare defensively — Pryce is the hardest worker I’ve ever had and Nathan has incredible physical talent. He’s fast and has skills to match. The scary thing is he’s starting to figure out how to use those gifts.”
Landrum said guys like sophomore James Vasek and freshman Dayne Johnson will add depth.
“James has always been one of the most athletic kids in the program, but his skill level has developed much faster than we anticipated. And Dayne has played a lot of high-level basketball in his life already, so he’e much more poised than your typical freshman.”
Landrum said a handful of the top teams in the league last season lost key pieces. Like DCS, though, Tree of Life returns a lot.
“Tree of Life was very good last year and brought back the majority of that team, so I would expect them to be tough again,” he said. “We split last season — they won by double digits at their place and we won by double digits at our place.
“We play them in our third game of the season, so we’ll see pretty soon where we stack up this year.”