Wilmington boys capture District 10, Class 2A crow
Wilmington (59) Vs. West Middlesex (51)
Mar 03, 2017
By Ed Farrell
CNHI News Service
SLIPPERY ROCK — Wilmington has won more than its share of District 10 football championships, including last November.
But Friday night served as uncharted territory for the Greyhounds in the championship round — roundball, that is.
Spencer DeMedal's dominating 27-point, eight-rebound, two-assist performance paced Wilmington High's boys basketball team to the program's first D-10 title via a 59-51 victory over West Middlesex.
"It's something special, especially since we haven't done it in basketball since 1987 (WPIAL)," DeMedal admitted. "But to do it as a senior with these guys, who I've formed a union with, is something special."
DeMedal was something special at Slippery Rock University's Morrow Field House, overcoming first-half personal-foul problems to score 20 second-half points.
"That's kind've what Spencer's done all year, he's our go-to guy," praised Greyhounds coach Mike Jeckavitch. "The other guys, they understand that, but Spencer can't do what he does unless the other guys take care of their part of the work.
"It's just a true testament to the kind of team we have, and the kind of player Spencer is," Jeckavitch added.
There were four deadlocks and a half-dozen lead changes, but Wilmington (18-7) went wire-to-wire: 11-7 at the quarter, 27-19 by the break, and 40-33 through three quarters.
DeMedal dominated during the third period, pulling down four offensive rebounds, two of which he converted into put-backs. That helped give the Greyhounds a 35-23 lead with 3:55 remaining in the period.
But Marshall Murray's marksmanship — two drives and a trey — helped bring the Big Reds back. When Chase Staunch scored with approximately 17 ticks to play in the quarter, West Middlesex moved within seven tallies entering the final frame.
At the outset of the fourth period Staunch's score, followed by Murray's pair of freebies and another triple, helped the Big Reds rally to within 42-40 with 7:10 to play. However, Reese Bender bombed a trey and DeMedal deposited another score as the Greyhounds extended their edge to 47-40.
Casey Mild's trey, courtesy of one of Staunch's half-dozen assists, moved West Middlesex within 53-49 with 1:26 remaining.
But Bender — who quarterbacked the Greyhounds gridders last fall — tossed a couple long balls on the same sideline inbounds play, connecting with Robert Pontius and DeMedal, respectively, as Wilmington, within 22 ticks, willed its way back to a 58-51 lead. Pontius' was a traditional 3-point play.
"If we need a big-time throw and a big-time catch, those are the guys we go to," a smiling Jeckavitch said regarding Bender and DeMedal.
To Jeckavitch's point, DeMedal did not go it alone. The brawny Bender bucketed a trio of treys for 10 points and handed out a handful of assists; Pontius posted 13 points and hauled down a handful of rebounds, and Tyler Kish connected for 9 points, while Cameron and Colton Marett and Tage Kelliher contributed pressure defense.
Wilmington went 23 for 43 from the floor, including 7 from beyond the 3-point line. The Greyhounds were guilty of 10 turnovers.
Jeckavitch said Wilmington's basketball program has not competed in the PIAA playoffs since 1987. Friday night's crown also was a roundball benchmark.
"When I first took over seven years ago one of my goals was to make it to the state playoffs and win a D-10 championship, and this group of kids, they brought that home to me this year and brought it back to the town of New Wilmington — a community that's been begging for this for a very long time," Jeckavitch related.
"We knew what type of character kids that we had, and when they came off of the football season, the success that they had, those same kids translated those exact same things to the basketball floor," Jeckavitch continued. "We knew it would only take a little bit to get our legs under us, and we've been kind've flyin' high ever since."
West Middlesex (11-15) was an underdog in a D-10 championship game for, perhaps, the first time since mentor Chad Mild assumed the Big Reds reins. Despite the setback West Middlesex moves into the PIAA playoffs, where it has been a perennial power for the past five years.
Murray's 15 markers, Mild's 12, and Jace Burger's five boards led the Big Reds, while Dylan Long lent eight points and Staunch scored seven. West Middlesex went 17 for 38 from the field and converted 10 of 11 freebies. But the Big Reds were guilty of 13 turnovers — six during the 2nd half.
Jeckavitch, joined by his players for a post-game photograph, never stopped smiling.
"Thirty years ago (for a state playoffs berth). It feels something special for these guys. We're gonna enjoy this moment, enjoy this weekend, then get back to work, 'cause we the state playoffs ahead of us," Jeckavitch concluded.