MUNCIE, IN- “Overrated.”
That was the word that the Muncie Central student section chanted at Wapahani senior Isaac Andrews after the guard had his shot blocked in the first few minutes of Tuesday evening’s game.
He only recorded two points in the first quarter of the match with the Bearcats. However, he went on to score 28 points, which aided the Raiders in their first win of the season.
“I think we got all the butterflies out of our stomach,” Andrews said. “[After the first quarter], the nerves went away and we started remembering what it's like to play basketball again.”
Tuesday’s contest at Muncie Central Fieldhouse kicked off the 2023-24 Delaware County boys basketball season. The match started with the Bearcats excelling on defense. Every time the Raiders tried to move the ball, it either ended in a block or a steal. The main focus for the Bearcats was to maintain Andrews.
“He’s so tough and strong with the ball,” Muncie Central head coach Justin Ullom said. “He uses his body well and gets to where he wants to go. Getting him off his spot is much easier said than done.”
The early success in guarding Andrews began with senior Xaviya Cook who drew the assignment to start. He was denying Andrews the ball in any way he could to try and slow him down. That defensive effort continued until the end of the first half.
“They got more aggressive, and certainly more than we were,” Ullom said. They came out and played more physically, we just didn’t match it. They put us on our heels and forced us into a lot of turnovers in the second quarter.”
A few minutes before halftime, Wapahani’s momentum started to kick in. This time, the Raiders were the ones that had the defensive and offensive success.
“We just had to settle in on our defensive rebounding,” Wapahani head coach Matt Luce said. “We settled into the game. And again, we have four really experienced players and eight guys that have played a lot of basketball for me, [which helped].”
When the two Delaware County teams returned to the court, the Raiders never looked back. Andrews continued to pile on with multiple three-pointers and helped find his teammates for baskets.
The seniors' performance didn’t just help the red and black. He is now in sixth place on the all-time Delaware County scoring list.
“It’s cool, but it doesn't really matter that much, to be honest,” Andrews said. “I just want to win as many championships with Wapahani as I can.”
His head coach echoed that thought process.
‘He's a leader in our community and he's just a real team guy,” Luce said. “He might be sixth overall in scoring. [But] he's also going to be up there in total wins for a four-year career. He's going to finish his career as a winner and one of the best winners [Wapahani] has ever had.”
While the Bearcats fell in their opening game, there were some positives.
“When you’re down 12 to 14 and you’re able to get it back to eight you feel pretty good,” Ullom said. “We just needed to execute better [down the stretch].”
Coming into this season the purple and white were trying to find their identity. Without much-returning varsity experience, finding new roles is pivotal to their success this year. It needs to be a win-by-committee mentality.
That didn’t seem to be too much of an issue through much of this matchup as Muncie Central produced four double-digit scorers, one of which was senior Brady McNabb.
“With five seniors leaving last year and not having as big of a role, I’ve got to step up this year,” McNabb said. “I’ve got to take that role on and help my team.”
The Raiders will be on the road as they travel to Pendleton Heights on Saturday, Nov. 25. The game is set for 7:30 p.m. The Bearcats have some time off before they head to Guerin Catholic on Nov. 29. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m.