One year ago, the season ended for the Delavan Panthers at the hands of Peoria Quest in the championship game of the Class 1A Abingdon-Avon Regional.
The Panthers (20-9) weren’t ready to have their season end Tuesday in their first game of the same regional. Delavan defeated No. 14-seed Sciota West Prairie 50-32 to move to Wednesday’s game against Elmwood.
No. 3-seed Delavan shot 14-of-41 from the field, including 3-of-13 from 3-point territory, but knocked down its free throws in the fourth quarter to advance to the next round. The Panthers went 13-for-19 from the stripe in the fourth quarter.
“In the postseason, it’s kind of a cliche, but it’s about surviving and advancing,” Delavan coach Ryon Kramer said. “A long time ago I heard, ‘You’ve got to win an ugly one, you’ve got to get lucky and you’ve got to beat someone you’re not supposed to beat.’ Hopefully we got that ugly one out of the way.”
Senior Tyler Perry came through when it mattered most for Delavan, posting 11 points, on 3-for-6 shooting, and nine rebounds. He pulled down six of his team-high nine boards in the second half and scored eight points after intermission.
“I told myself (at halftime) that I needed to get more rebounds to try to help the team, because we were slacking on that,” Perry said. “I also needed to drive more to get a foul for a possible and-1 and for more free throw opportunities.”
Perry scored four straight points midway through the third quarter to turn a five-point advantage into a nine-point lead with 3:30 to go in the quarter.
“He plays that way all the time,” Kramer said. “He’s a high-energy guy who rebounds the ball and he doesn’t quit on anything. We needed someone to give us a spark because we were struggling.”
Justin Sieh led Delavan with 13 points while grabbing five of his own rebounds, but sat out of the fourth quarter with a hand injury.
The senior asked Kramer to return to the game, but Delavan already possessed a 17-point lead late in the game, and Kramer elected to rest his leader until Wednesday.
“If it were a five-point game, that would be different, but I sat him out for precautionary reasons,” Kramer said.
Sieh had 11 points in the first half to help the Panthers to a 19-14 lead at the break.
The Panthers suffered from a nine-minute stretch between the second and third quarters with one field goal --- a putback layup at the halftime buzzer Sieh --- to allow the Cyclones to stay in the game.
The Cyclones pulled within one point, 19-18, early in the third quarter, but a 12-0 run in just over five minutes helped the Panthers break the game open before leading by 10 entering the fourth quarter.
Mason Engrell led West Prairie with 11 points and Michael Purdy scored nine points.
Delvan took care of the basketball, only committing nine turnovers to West Prairie’s 16.
“They don’t want to go home yet, nobody does, but especially seniors never do at this time of the year,” Kramer said.
Joey Matthews scored seven points, Noah Jeckel added six and Charlie Hodges scored five for the Panthers.