Men’s basketball draws Lawrence North in Sectional

Fourth-ranked Irish head into tourney with 18-2 record

During+the+City+tournament+championship+game%2C+senior+Vincent+Brady+gets+loose+for+two+points.+The+Irish+won+the+City+title+with+a+69-59+win+over+Crispus+Attucks.+The+team+now+heads+into+Sectional+play%2C+taking+on+Lawrence+North+on+March+3+at+Tech.+

Dejah Jones-Moore

During the City tournament championship game, senior Vincent Brady gets loose for two points. The Irish won the City title with a 69-59 win over Crispus Attucks. The team now heads into Sectional play, taking on Lawrence North on March 3 at Tech.

Jameson Browne, News Editor

As the men’s basketball team wraps up the regular season and prepares for the tournament, Head Coach Mr. Jason Delaney provided his perspective on what the Irish must do in order to win the Sectional for the first time since 2013. 

The Irish will begin Sectional play on March 3 in what will be one of the premier games in the state that night, as Delaney’s fourth-ranked team will battle second-ranked Lawrence North. 

Delaney says he has been reminding his team, which won games over Ben Davis on Feb. 19 and Fort Wayne Snider on Feb. 20, what their goal is throughout the year. “I’ve really been trying to make sure they remember that we are trying to achieve greatness,” he said. Delaney mentioned that their belief is the most important aspect of their attitude.

About the Sectional draw, Delaney said during a phone interview on Feb. 21, “This was the hardest road we could have possibly gotten.” However, he said he believes his team matches up pretty well with the Wildcats. “They have some really good guards and a couple of good big guys that we are going to have to focus on,” he said. 

His keys to winning are to just play basketball. Delaney said, “We cannot put any added pressure on ourselves. We just need to be calm and poised and play the same way we have all year.” The winner of this game will advance to take on the winner of Lawrence Central and Warren Central game in the Sectional semifinals. 

As the tournament approaches, and as a few teams have been quarantined, the Irish are grateful to have made it this far. “This has been a different kind of year. We are blessed and thankful to have the opportunity to play every game,” he said. Throughout the season, Delaney says the team has played games with no fans and some games with only a few fans allowed, but he restated how grateful he and his players are to even be able to play at all. 

Most members of the varsity team have opted for online instruction and plan to return to campus when the season ends. 

So far this year, the team has been extremely successful with a record of 18-2 (as of Feb. 20) and a ranking of fourth in the Class 4A Associated Press Poll. Both of those losses (to Fort Wayne Homestead and Gary West Side) were in overtime. “Our chemistry and everyone being bought in has been what makes us so good this year,” Delaney said. 

Over quarantine, the team made sure to organize workouts and spend some time together, whether it was supporting each other at AAU tournaments or playing basketball at a local park, according to Delaney. 

The team is made up of a lot of young players, but Delaney mentioned his three seniors are a significant part of how well the team has performed this year. “Each one of our seniors leads us in a different way. Jalen Johnson is very vocal and an intelligent basketball player. Vincent Brady will lead us through his actions and Nick Bremer is a guy that is almost like a coach for us,” he said. 

The coach also cited the team’s depth. Delaney said, “Every single guy has done something to win a game for us.” He said he believes that can translate into wins in the tournament. 

Rankings and ratings indicate that the Sectional at Arsenal Tech may very well be the most competitive in the state. Delaney said, “I firmly believe that there are no seven teams in America that are paired together in a tournament as tough as ours.” Besides the Irish and the host school, those seven teams include Crispus Attucks, North Central, Lawrence Central, Lawrence North and Warren Central. 

To win this year, Delaney has reminded his team how small the margin of error is and that they have to be competitors. Delaney said, “We have to take it game by game and pay close attention to detail. We are as talented as anyone in the state of Indiana, so if we play to our potential, I think we have a great chance.”

That last Irish team to win a Sectional in 2013 would go on to capture Regional and Semistate titles as well before losing to Carmel in the Class 4A State championship game. This year’s team is shooting for a similar result but with a different outcome in the final game of the season. The Class 4A State title contest will be played April 3 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.