Senior guard Will Yoakum was held scoreless for the first 14 minutes and change, but he finished with 18 points, 15 in the second half and 12 at the free throw line, to lead the Delaware Hayes boys basketball team to a 53-44 non-league win over host Big Walnut Tuesday night.
The Pacers snapped a three-game losing streak and picked up their eighth straight win over their former OCC-Capital rival.
“I was really trying to focus on getting steals or, on rebounds, leaking out for easy baskets,” Yoakum said. “I think that when I got the ball, I did a good job of getting to the free throw line and drawing contact.”
Free throws ended up being the difference in the game. Delaware went 18-for-22 at the line – all but one of which came in the second half. Conversely, BW did not attempt a foul shot in the game.
Hayes coach Jordan Blackburn knew there was little room for error with a short rotation. His guys couldn’t get into foul trouble.
“We actually bring in refs to practice to call fouls,” he said. “Especially with a shorter rotation, we don’t have a big margin for error. We don’t do it right every game, but it’s something that we definitely practice.”
Freshmen Paul Burris and Nate Griggs came up big for the Pacers. Burris hit three three-pointers and scored eight of his 11 points in the first half. Griggs added nine points and six assists.
“(Burris has) always been offensively skilled … the last week and a half to two weeks, in practice, he’s been a whole lot tougher,” Blackburn said.
Delaware had an assist on all nine baskets in the opening half and finished with 13 assists on 15 field goals for the game.
“We’ve had the most success, during my time, when the ball is moving,” Blackburn said. “It helps the kids stay engaged … it’s definitely something that we preach in practice. The ball can’t stick – it has to move.”
Yoakum came up a rebound short of a double-double and had three steals. Terin Kinsway scored 11 points and Sam Midura had four rebounds and four assists for the Pacers (9-6).
The Golden Eagles (1-11), fresh off their first win of the season, put together their best performance of the winter, shooting 49 percent from the field and hitting six of 15 shots from deep.
“I think our kids did a great job of buying in and executing the game plan,” Golden Eagles coach Brett Bartlett said. “Our offense looked a lot better – we shot the ball with a lot of confidence. If we can continue to improve and play with a lot more confidence, we’re going to be right there with any one of these teams.”
Senior guard Ben Saxe connected on a pair of three-pointers and Jordan Koebel added another as BW connected on its first five shots of the game to race out to a 13-5 lead in the first quarter.
Burris hit his second three-pointer of the half before Yoakum finally broke into the scoring column with an and-one conversion to pull Delaware even, 23-23, at the break.
“They were face-guarding him in the first half – they were doing a little bit of diamond-and-one,” Blackburn said. “They were just trying to deny him the ball. We were using him as a screener because they weren’t helping off of him.”
Delaware used an 11-0 run in the third quarter, started by another Burris three-pointer, to give the Pacers their first lead at 26-25.
Yoakum scored six points during the run, four of which came at the line, and Delaware led 34-27 at the end of the third.
Kinsway scored two of Delaware’s three field goals in the fourth quarter as the Pacers iced the game by hitting 13 of 17 free throws.
Saxe led the Eagles with 12 points, all on threes. Koebel and Henry von Hollen finished with 10 apiece. Von Hollen also had four rebounds and Nathan Montgomery had four assists.
Next up, both teams return to league action Friday night. BW hosts Groveport-Madison in OCC-Capital play and Delaware hosts Hilliard Darby in OCC-Cardinal action. Tips are scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
Keiona Houser finished with a game-high 14 points and Abby Weller added 12 as Hayes cruised past host Madison Christian 57-20 Tuesday night.
The Pacers led 17-3 after the first quarter and only added to their edge the rest of the way. They outscored Madison Christian 14-6 in the second, 14-5 in the third and 12-6 in the fourth.
Buckeye Valley 46, Westerville Central 35
The Barons started well, parlaying a 29-15 halftime edge into a non-league win Tuesday in Westerville.
Buckeye Valley was sparked by a balanced offensive attack. Alaina Radcliffe led all scorers with 16 points while adding seven rebounds, an assist and two steals.
Other BV standouts included Logan Hatcher, who finished with 11 points and four boards; and Morgan Scowden, who closed with nine points, five rebounds, two assists and a steal.
Also: Dublin Jerome 50, Orange 32.
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichdelgazette.