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Defending 5A champs take down Guthrie for trip to state

The Del City boys basketball team beat Guthrie in the area consolation finals to qualify for the Class 5A state tournament. Photo by Jay Wiggins for the Midwest City Beacon

By Jacob Sturm
Midwest City Beacon

PIEDMONT — If Del City’s boys’ basketball team had any nerves ahead of its matchup with Guthrie in an elimination game for the 5A State Tournament on Saturday night, they didn’t show it.

That came through a blistering hot start from the floor, which rolled into a 58-49 victory over the Bluejays in Piedmont. The hot shooting opened up a 17-8 lead after a quarter, and that margin proved to be the difference on the scoreboard for much of the night.

Lenny Hatchett, Del City’s coach, credited the defensive pressure the defending 5A state champion Eagles placed on Guthrie early as a catalyst for the hot start.

“I think the mindset of our guys of wanting to go out there and guard people kind of set the tone,” Hatchett said. “And that’s what we talked about last night, and we talked about this morning in shootaround, is that that is one thing we can control is our defensive effort. Shots may not be falling, but if we come out there and play solid defensively 1-5, I liked our chances.”
And play solidly they did.

The Eagles wreaked havoc through a full court press that has been a usual component of the Del City strategy, and the energy seemed to bother Guthrie ballhandlers. When the Blue Jays made shots,

Del City responded and kept the heat on Guthrie to cut into the deficit.

“We had nothing to lose,” Hatchett said. “We’ve kind of been underdogs all year. Our record isn’t very good, everybody is talking about all the guys we lost last year… I never looked at it as a rebuilding year because this group here stayed solid from Day 1 in August all the way through our season right now. They didn’t want to be a team that didn’t make it. When you’ve got that type of group that works hard and competes, you’re always going to have a chance.”

Del City grew the lead to 28-17 at halftime, maintained the lead with a 42-33 edge after the third quarter and the result never looked in doubt.

Michel Graham churned out 20 points including a 9-point fourth quarter to help seal the victory.

He credited his teammates for how they played down the stretch.

“They were denying me a little bit in the second half,” Graham said of Guthrie. “My team stepped up and made some good shots and made some tough shots.”

The Eagles, which made the area tournament round as a regional consolation winner, did not have any margin for error heading into the area matchups. Del City defeated Elgin 69-60 Friday night before punching their ticket to state Saturday with the Guthrie result. If Graham is any indication, the Eagles are excited for that opportunity at state.

“I would say, on a scale of 1-10, it (the excitement level) is a 100,” Graham said.

Del City faces Crossings Christian at 9 a.m. on Thursday in Norman.

Del City’s Jashawn McCalister celebrates after the Eagles beat Guthrie 58-49 Saturday night in the Class 5A Area consolation championship at Piedmont High School. Photo by jay Wiggins for the Midwest City Beacon

 

 

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