IR Unified opens state playoffs with route of McKean

Indian River High School Unified basketball head coach Steve Kilby, center, talks to his troops during a timeout in Monday’s 22-6 win over McKean. The victory advances IR to the DIAA state playoffs semifinals round.

Experience can certainly go a long way for a team in the postseason. The Indian River High School Unified basketball team is loaded with players who were a part of last season’s DIAA state semifinal-qualifying team.

That group has added a few new faces, but the core of the group has played an instrumental part in the success of this season so far. That success includes a 5-1 regular-season mark, as well as a win in the first round of the DIAA state playoffs this season, thanks to a 22-6 win over McKean on Monday, March 2.

Gabe “Big Shot” Mouynivong was an offense machine for the Indians, scoring a game-high 12 points, including three buckets from way downtown. Wyatt Argo added four points, while Nariah Showell, Joseph Snyder and T.J. Moore all chipped in with two counters each.

“He’s got a real passion for the game,” IR head coach Steve Kilby said about Mouynivong. “Sometimes we try to rein him in with his celebrations, but Gabe is Gabe, and he is really just having fun. Gabe, Nariah, Joseph and Clara [Shepherd] are having so much fun. They are definitely enjoying it. Our partners are amazing. To find kids who will give up their own time to participate in this is a real blessing.”

While he may not have be loading up the stat sheet with the points, Snyder would have been better known as Mr. Windex, because he was wiping the glass with rebound after rebound.

“Joseph is probably the most athletic of our Unified players,” added Kilby. “He runs the floor really well. He has a great attitude, and you really have to appreciate that. He also shows a great level of compassion and great sportsmanship to not only our players but also our opponents.”

The Indians will now host Dover — a 22-20 winner over top-seeded and previously unbeaten Mt. Pleasant. IR is the No. 2 seed from the South, while the Senators (4-3 overall) are the No. 4 seed from the South. Three of the four seeds from the South — defending state champion and No. 1 South seed Caeser Rodney being the other — were all victorious in the first round. The Riders took down Appoquinimink, 32-20.

The IR-Dover game will take place on Monday, March 9, at 6 p.m.

“There is really something magical about this season for our high school and these student-athletes,” wrapped up Kilby. “They’ve all really seemed to embrace this team, and it’s the entire school district. It’s nice to see.”

Free throws: Because of DIAA rules, IR had to hold back four of its regular partners from playing in the game against McKean. Seniors Kaylee Hall and A.J. Bordeau, and juniors Morgan McGee and Savannah O’Shields all sat out the quarterfinal game.

Even though she wasn’t going to play, Hall found another way to impart some of her experience from last year into the game. During a timeout late in the game, Hall took Shepherd onto the court to show her where to stand for positioning when IR had the ball on offense. It’s the little things like that that really set Hall a part as a teammate and leader.

“Kaylee Hall is just such a good person,” Kilby said. “She has a genuine care for these kids, and she is such a blessing. She is a wonderful asset for us. It is truly a testament to her parents for how they’ve raised such a wonderful person. There were times this summer where she would pick up Clara and take her shopping or out to lunch. Those are the types of things that you don’t hear or read about. She is a great student and a great person, and we are lucky to have her.”

Staff Reporter

Jason has been in journalism for 20 years. He moved to Coastal Delaware in August 2017 with his wife, Jessica, and their daughters, Kylie, 17, and Grace, 12. He has a passion for high-school sports and especially values the relationships that builds.