Delaney, Episcopal Academy rally past Germantown Academy

FORT WASHINGTON >> The play that summed up the game for Episcopal Academy wasn’t a basket or block, but a sophomore throwing himself across the floor to force a jump ball.

Churchmen forward Jack O’Reilly hurled himself across the floor in the third quarter to grab a ball between two Germantown Academy players, getting hands on it and forcing the official’s whistle that gave the ball back to EA. O’Reilly didn’t score a point, but his play was just as big as anything senior guard Conner Delaney did in the fourth quarter.

Behind a strong finish by Delaney, EA topped the Patriots 51-44 Tuesday afternoon in a very entertaining Inter-Ac contest.

“He runs from I don’t even know where, I think the opposite block and dives on the floor about five yards and gets a jump ball,” Delaney said. “It’s those little plays that we talk about as EA basketball, playing hard, playing smart and playing together. That play by a sophomore, he does those little things that help us win.”

Delaney had a game-high 22 points, scoring 10 of them in the fourth quarter. He got plenty of help from senior Nick Alikakos, who dropped in 14 points in his second game back from a major ankle injury. Delaney didn’t just do it with his scoring, making a crucial strip-steal late in the game and helping his team play tough defense in the last few minutes.

EA finished strong and it started strong, scoring the game’s first five points, then using a 6-0 run in the first quarter to open up an 11-4 run over GA. While the Patriots got themselves back in the game, they were chasing the score from the beginning.

“I felt like we just didn’t have the energy today,” GA senior co-captain Kyle McCloskey said. “There were a lot of things that went into it. We didn’t really run our offense very well, we weren’t playing our best defense and we weren’t fast-breaking and really playing as a team. They kind of out-toughed us today and you could tell they were playing as a team when at points, we weren’t.”

GA trailed by three at the end of the first quarter and by two at the half, 25-23. Every time the Patriots got close, EA seemed to have the answer. For example, Cole Storm hit a baseline jumper to open the third, tying the game 25-25, but Delaney came back and canned a 3-pointer to put his team right back on top.

A smart point guard, Delaney was able to get his shot late in the game because he got his big guys involved early. Delaney would hit another huge 3-pointer in the fourth quarter, using a similar approach of coming off a screen for an open catch-and-shoot.

“I was a little slow to start off, they weren’t helping off me as much, which also happened against Malvern (Prep) but I just kept moving off-ball,” Delaney said. “I was using my screens, using my big guys and finding them early, I think helped me because the hedges weren’t able to come off, they couldn’t double me up top because they had to respect the rolls.”

EA held a 39-37 lead after the third quarter then started the final frame, fittingly for how the rest of the period would go, with a jumper by Delaney. The guard split a pair of freebies to give the Churchmen a 42-39 lead with 4:16 left, but GA had a big answer.

Senior guard Cole Storm, off a feed from McCloskey, canned a corner 3-pointer to knot the game at 42-42 with 4:04 to play. Again, Delaney delievered with a trey from the top of the key and EA would lead the remaining 3:07.

“I guess that was a pretty big shot,” Delaney said. “Cole Storm had hit the 3 to tie it up, and he’s one of my good buddies, so to combat his shot with a 3 of my own, it put us up and helped us get the momentum back.”

Evan-Eric Longino, GA’s leading scorer with 21 points, hit a shot to cut the lead to one, but GA’s next possession ended with a miss and long rebound that went right to Delaney. Wasting no time, the senior charged up the floor and into the lane, where he finished and got fouled.

While he missed the free throw, it was a big play to keep EA riding that momentum.

“I’m no dummy as a coach, so we tried to put the ball in the ball of our best players,” EA coach Craig Conlin said. “One of them is CD and the other is Nick, so you put the ball in their hands and see what they can do. Conner was able to get some great looks and he was able to step to the free throw line and make some free throws as well.”

Delaney also had a crucial defensive play when he was able to bat the ball out of Longino’s hands for a steal with it still a three-point game.

“He shoots from a little above his knees and my dad always taught me that if you’re a guard, you can’t block a shot up high, you have to block it down by his waist,” Delaney said. “I think I got it once or twice earlier and to make it in that situation with that much time left, it just helped us out a lot.”

GA didn’t score again, something McCloskey attributed to EA’s defense and the team being a little predicatble while it was trying to get something to go in.

“When we came back, we were playing with energy, we were playing good defense and sharing the ball and then we stopped doing that,” McCloskey said. “We had a couple lapses on defense and didn’t get our best shot a couple times down the floor. When you’re using so much energy to get back in the game, that can build and slow you down really fast.”

McCloskey felt the GA performance was a carry-over from the team’s practice on Monday, which also lacked energy. The good thing for the Patriots is they still have plenty of time left in the Inter-Ac, including rematches with Episcopal and Haverford, the other team to have beaten them in league play.

“We have to be vocal leaders,” McCloskey said. “I try to be on the court, but it’s really about being vocal and everyone knows our season isn’t over because of one game.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply