Del City outlasted the Bulldogs, 47-44, in a seesaw affair that saw the Eagles jump out to an early lead, fall behind in the second quarter, dominate the third quarter and rally in the final minutes to win their first state title since 1980.
“It was like a heavyweight boxing match,” said head coach Lenny Hatchett. “They took their swings and we took ours. It came down to who was going to make plays at the end.”
The Eagles made plays when it counted the most. Trailing by four late in the fourth quarter, senior Keyondre Young drilled a three-pointer to pull Del City within one and gave them the momentum they needed to win the game.
“When I shot the shot, I didn’t know what the score was, or how much we were down by,” admitted Young. “I just shot it. They gave me a little bit of space and I felt confident in the shot.”
“It was the turning point in the game,” claimed Hatchett. “You could just see the energy and the passion in our guys. They had that attitude that they were going to get over that hump and win the game.”
After getting outscored 16-5 in the second quarter, Hatchett reminded his team at halftime they only trailed by four points and were still in the game.
“I told those guys, right now is the time where we’ve got to dig down deep inside and we’ve got to find what we do best and stick with that,” said Hatchett. “Our guys, they bought in. They listened and they went out there and executed and came out and had a great third quarter.”
Keyondre Young, Photo Credit: JM Terry, Eagle Press and Del City High School“The whole second half I was just so locked in,” recalled Young, who has committed to play at Valparaiso next season. “I don’t remember looking at the score until there was only seconds left on the clock and we had won.”
Winning their first state basketball championship in 41 years helped ease the Eagles’ pain from the previous two seasons. They lost in the title game in 2019 and were the favorite to win it all in 2020 before the postseason was postponed due to COVID-19.
Since winning the title, Hatchett has been inundated with calls, texts and well wishes from coaches, community leaders and former players.
“It’s uplifted our community, especially in this time that everyone is in right now,” remarked Hatchett. “Everyone needs something positive and our community got it. The alumni have been unbelievable. I’ve been hearing from those guys, even from some former players and coaches from the 1980 team. It’s definitely an uplifting time for Del City.”
“Being able to see the community all together and celebrating something that hasn’t happened in a long time, it feels good,” said Young. “I feel like Del City definitely needed it, especially after the year we’ve had. It feels good to give something back.”
Young and his teammates were also happy to win a state championship for Hatchett, who had lost his three previous title game appearances.
“He’s the best coach I’ve ever had,” boasted Young. “He always believes in you. He never gives up on you. You want to run through a wall for him. That’s what makes this championship so good is to be able to give him his first one. I know he’ll get more. He definitely deserves it.”
“It definitely made knowing it was my last high school game ever easier,” added Young. “It was a great send-off present. It’s the best feeling.”