Delta boys basketball had their first win of the season within reach but Fayette knocked down 7 of 8 free throws in the last 3:46 to slowly extend a two point lead into a 44-39 victory over the Panthers to move to 4-5 on the season Friday at Delta.
“Any time you hit free throws is big,” said winning coach Todd Mitchell. “Especially coming down the stretch. It kind of gave us a little breathing room when we had a two or three point lead. When you can extend that to four or five it makes it a little easier on you.”
The Eagles had to withstand an early Panther barrage of three point goals, one each by Gabe Freeman, Brady Wymer and Goirgio Festinoni to put Delta up 11-7 at the end of one.
“We came in really concerned about their post play and we wanted to try to keep them out of where they wanted to receive the ball,” explained Mitchell. “But then they started hitting the threes and it made it harder on us.”
Two more long range bombs from Wymer and Freeman gave Delta a 17-12 second quarter lead before the Eagles rallied.
Tharyn Colegrove netted a foul line jumper, Clayton Pheils split a pair from the line, then Austin Lopez took a high-low backcut pass from Trey Keefer with 16 ticks left to tie the score at 17.
After a Panther turnover, Lopez rang up a triple from the left corner at the buzzer, giving Fayette a 20-17 halftime lead.
Keefer’s three-ball at the 4:10 mark of the third upped the Eagle lead to 27-21 but Festinoni scored three straight hoops on a left side drive, a fastbreak basket off a steal and a sweet right to left move with the left hand with 1:32 to go in the quarter to tie the score.
Keefer hit a pair from the line to regain an Eagle lead, but Freeman’s second chance hoop and a Peyton Phillips foul shot helped Delta take back a 30-29 lead at the third quarter horn.
Consecutive triples from Colegrove and Pheils put the Eagles back up 35-30 three minutes into the fourth but Festinoni nailed one from outside the arc to get the Panthers within a basket with 4:40 left.
Colegrove split a pair from the stripe and Grant Reinking forced up a shot inside that went in before Phillips hit two from the foul line to make it 38-35 before the march to the foul line began for the Eagles.
Keefer, Pheils, and Travis Wagner each drilled two from the line in the last 40 seconds to keep the Panthers at a two possession game.
For the game the Eagles only hit 10 for 18 from the foul line, while shooting 13 for 29 from the floor.
Delta was 12 of 35 from the field and 4 of 9 from the foul stripe.
Festinoni had 14 points to lead all scorers.
Colegrove’s 10 topped Fayette.
Delta (0-9) hosts Swanton today in a non-league game. Fayette (4-5, 2-2 BBC) hosts Stryker today in league play.
Reach Joe Blystone at email@example.com