Skip to main content

Delaware Hayes holds on for 47-44 win over Westerville South

The win moves the Pacers into sole possession of second place in the Ohio Capital Conference -Capital Division

WESTERVILLE, Ohio – Jake Lowman was looking to redeem himself after he turned the ball over with his team clinging to a two-point lead in the waning moments of Friday’s game at Westerville South.

As fate would have it, the Delaware Hayes junior guard received that opportunity, when he was fouled with the Pacers leading by one point with 9.9 seconds remaining.

Instead of melting under the spotlight, Lowman calmly stepped to the free throw line and sank both of his foul shots to put Delaware ahead 47-44.

And after South senior point guard Jadi Cunningham’s 3-pointer bounced harmlessly off the front of the rim just before the buzzer, Lowman happily celebrated the crucial Ohio Capital Conference-Capital Division victory with his teammates.

“I was hoping for another chance (after the turnover),” said Lowman, who also starts at quarterback on Delaware’s football team. “I’m in these (pressure) situations all the time, so I was prepared for it. I would trust anyone on my team with the game on the line, but I was ready to go to the line to make two shots when they fouled me.”

With the win, Delaware improved to 14-4 overall and moved into sole possession of second place in the OCC-Capital with a 9-2 league mark behind Westerville North (10-1).

“This means everything to us,” Lowman said. “We’ve lost to Westerville South three times since I’ve been here and this is a tough environment to play in. Their coach (Ed Calo) is a big time coach, one of the best in the state, so it’s always good to get a win here.

“This keeps us one game behind Westerville North in the standings, and we can still win it if they slip up. All the pressure’s on them now.”

Delaware junior guard Jesse Burris scored eight of his team-high 13 points in the second half, including a layup that put the Paces up 44-29 with less than two minutes remaining.

After Cunningham missed South’s final shot of the game, Burris also swatted the ball out of Amari Hodges’ hands after he rebounded the ball just a few seconds before the buzzer.

“Jake and Jesse have been playing significant minutes on varsity since they were freshmen, so I have complete trust in them in late-game situations,” fourth-year Delaware coach Adam Vincenzo said. “Jake made me a little nervous on a couple of those passes (late in the game), but he stepped up and got it done at the free throw line with the game on the line. And Jesse tipped the ball away on the last play to keep them from getting another shot, so they both came through for us again.”

Lowman (9 points), Carter Piatt-Brown (9), Chase Griggs (6), Anthony Wilson (6), Garrett Brown (2) and Hezekiah Russell (2) rounded out a balanced scoring attack for Delaware.

“Jesse leads us in scoring, but we’re usually pretty balanced, and we’re at our best when we’re balanced,” Vincenzo said. “We were able to make them pick their poison. We spread them out a little bit to create some angles to get to the rim or shoot some threes, depending on how they guarded us.”

Burris and Piatt-Brown each scored five points in the first quarter to help the Pacers take a 16-5 lead, which South reduced to 21-16 by halftime.

Delaware also led by as much as 34-20 after Griggs scored four consecutive points late in the third quarter.

“We played good (man-to-man) defense,” Burris said. “We kept them out of the paint and forced them to shoot jump shots.”

However, the Wildcats answered with a 22-10 run to make things interesting, as Cunningham scored 14 of his game-high 18 points in the second half alone.

Kruz McClure also scored seven of his 13 points in the second half, including a 3-pointer that pulled South within 42-39 with 2:27 left.

Cunningham converted a three-point play to make it 44-42 with 1:02 remaining, and he scored a layup with just 13.1 left to pull South within 45-44.

But after dribbling the length of the floor, Cunningham missed a 3-pointer that could have sent the game into overtime.

“I’m pleased with how we battled, even though we dug ourselves a big hole,” said Calo, whose squad dropped to 13-5 overall and 8-3 in the OCC-Capital. “We just didn’t shoot the ball well, but some of that was because Delaware did a nice job guarding us.”

Also scoring for South were Hodges (4 points), Jujuan Ray (4), Tyler Kielmeyer (3) and Jalen Wheeler (2).

“This is definitely a game we had circled on our schedule, because none of us have beaten Westerville South since we’ve been here,” Burris said. “Calo is a great coach and it’s hard to win here.”