“He [former Delta superintendent Reese Mann] was so good to our academic and athletic programs and was such an inspiration for so many people,” Delta head coach Mark Detweiler said.
On Friday, the Delta Eagles (10-5, 1-2 HHC) welcomed Pendleton Heights (4-11, 0-4 HHC) to Muncie as the two Hoosier Heritage Conference (HHC) teams would battle it out in a game that came down to the final minutes.
The hometown Eagles would not disappoint as they outlasted the Arabians 60-56. Even though every win is good in high school basketball, this win was special for the Eagles.
The game was Delta’s annual Coaches vs Cancer game, but this year was different. Delta’s former superintendent, Reese Mann, lost his two-year battle with cholangiocarcinoma, a rare bile duct cancer, last October.
“Anything that we can ever do, you know, to acknowledge him and who he was and what he stood for,” coach Detweiler said. “We just have to do so. It's always a blessing when we can do things like that.”
The student section and band wore green to show their support. Delta conducted a raffle and let people pay to shoot free throws for prizes. All of the money raised will go to the American Cancer Society in Mann's name and honor.
The game was a tale of multiple scoring runs. If you watched the first quarter, you would have thought the Eagles would have won easily. If you watched the second, maybe the Arabians had your vote. It was back and forth until the end.
Before halftime, the Eagles were up by multiple possessions. But the visitors rallied to trail by four as the second quarter came to a close. Detweiler saw multiple reasons that helped the Arabians make their run.
“We squandered too many possessions,” he said. “We were playing so fast that we wasted some transitions and wasted some possessions. They just can't waste them and it should have been more than what it was.”
Luckily for his team, they came out with another big scoring run to open the third. But still, his team continued to do things that made the veteran coach upset.
“As soon as you take things personal, then you're not at your best,” he said. “They take foul calls personal. They take when they come out of the game personal, or like the officials are out to get them, you know. When you take it personally you're never going to be at your best.”
Speaking of the officials, three technicals were given out. Two for the Eagles and one for the Arabians. To coach Detweiler, finding how to stop the technicals is a million-dollar question.
“The last thing I said in there [lockeroom] was I'm not gonna quit talking about it [technicals],” he said. “I'm not going to put a dress on it… We're gonna keep calling you out on it, you know? You either figure it out or we got guys that are playing well enough that we just got to give them your minutes. If you can't keep it together, then those minutes just got to go to somebody else.”
Junior D’Mare Hood was one of the Eagles that was given a technical.
“It's obviously never the game plan,” Hood said. “But like when it happens in the heat of the moment, it's a conference game. It was a close game, and there were techs on both sides. So we just kept going with it.”
Hood led the Eagles with 19 points. He was followed by junior Jackson Wors with 17. Junior Josiah Gustin led the Arabians with 15.
In the end, the Eagles were able to use good free throw shooting to send the visitors home and let the Delta fans have a good kickoff to their weekend.