The Indian River varsity basketball team rebounded to beat a dismal Delmar team 74-47 after suffering an excruciating 62-59 loss to Laurel, Feb. 18, on Senior Night.
Indian River reestablished a solid scoring balance against Delmar, allowing everyone to contribute. Senior guard Larry Bailey scored a game high 24 points, which established him as the teams’ high scorer for the season. Senior guard Jeremy Sturgis chipped in with 16 points, while freshman center Jeremy Purnell added 11.
The most important aspect of Indian River’s Feb. 22 win over Delmar was their bench production. Head coach Pat Kelly seldom uses his bench, but in an attempt to get his players some playing time going into the playoffs, his bench responded to score an additional 12 points.
In the loss against Laurel, Kelly played his five starters the entire game and it became evident his players were too tired to compete at the highest level.
“Just look at the energy they were playing with, especially at the end,” said Kelly.
Sturgis was the Indians leading scorer, with only 14 points, and Bailey added 13. When teams’ most explosive scorers are held way below their season average someone else must emerge to pick up the slack for the victory. This wasn’t the case in the Laurel defeat, as junior Travis Irving scored 12, senior Therman Hagans scored 11 and Purnell had 9 points.
In the month of February, Indian River went on a 6-1 run — defeating a few opponents by a staggering 40, 32 and 23 points. Indian River has averaged 70 PPG down the stretch, while holding their opponents to a paltry average of 54. Had Indian River won the game versus Laurel, they would be on an unbelievable 8-1 win streak as they finished the regular season, and would have undeniable momentum going into the playoffs — but losing brings them back down to planet Earth.
Indian River’s loss to Laurel can be directly attributed to lackluster defense, according to the coach.
“They got a lot of second-chance points, and Hill didn’t play against us last time, and he killed us on the boards,” said Kelly.
Indian River allowed Laurel to score 40 points in the paint, and also gave up a 14 second-chance points in the contest. Laurel’s Richard Penn scored a game high 26 points in the upset victory over Indian River.
“[The Laurel game] didn’t go our way, but the kids still fought. This is good preparation for going into the tournament — we’ll get a chance to see what we did right, what we did wrong and correct it by next week,” said Kelly.
The Indians regular season record improved to 15-7 overall, and they have held down a second place 12-7 record in the southern Henlopen conference. The Indians just missed making the conference tournament, but have secured a spot in the state tournament.
“This is a very athletic league so we will have to execute to be successful,” said Kelly.