Head coach reflects on basketball team’s State title

Delaney says his memories will last a lifetime


Cat Madden

Basketball Head Coach Mr. Jason Delaney receives his Class 4A State basketball championship medal from Mr. Dave Worland.

Will Mayer, Sports Editor

It’s been a few weeks since the men’s varsity basketball team defeated Chesterton to become the first private school to win a 4A basketball State championship. The Irish defeated the Trojans 65-31 in dominant fashion, capping a historic 26-6 season.

Now several days removed from cutting down the nets at Gainbridge Fieldhouse, basketball Head Coach Mr. Jason Delaney shares his thoughts on the season.

Delaney said, “Winning the State championship was a very surreal moment. You work for something for six years and you’re doing it with these guys for four years, and to finally see that moment, to see their excitement and their smiles. That was the best part of the night. Just seeing their excitement and the execution of something they put their mind to, and doing it together was genuine because they put in a lot of time and heartache and blood, sweat and tears together. To see them enjoy that moment was really cool.”

Though this is the program’s first State title in the Delaney era, this is Delaney’s third as a coach. The head coach has now won a State championship at three different schools as the head coach. He is the first coach in the history of the Indiana high school basketball tournament to do so. Delaney coached Waldron, Arsenal Tech and now Cathedral to state titles. Delaney said, “Doing it at three different schools means I’ve been around great coaching staffs with great guys on it and great players who bought in to what we were trying to accomplish. That’s what all three of those State titles mean to me.

“You’ll have those special bonds with those kids for the rest of your life. And that was kind of the cool thing for me throughout this run, hearing the support from the guys from Waldron and Tech. We usually text each other on the anniversary of our State championship date. But to hear their support through the run we were making was really cool and it brings back those memories of that time with them because there’s nothing like a state championship run. You can preach it for so long, but until the guys see the results of their hard work and see what you’ve been talking about, that’s when they really buy in.”

The players on the team really bought in to Delaney’s focus, using this year’s team motto as “Greatness is Calling.” The team answered that call to greatness by winning the title. This historic season, though, also resulted in six regular season losses. The Irish are the first team in Class 4A to have had six or more losses in a regular season and win a State championship.

This year’s regular season schedule was created by Delaney himself, in agreement with the players, to result in the toughest schedule possible in order to be ready for tournament time. Delaney said, “We challenged ourselves to the hardest schedule that we could make. We can’t control who all will or won’t play us and so we could only go out and find the teams that will. We tried to play every top team in the state, (and) the majority of them were willing to play us.

“Sometimes we had to do it through a showcase to get the matchup we wanted, but we were able to play the top two teams in Ohio and the top two teams in Kentucky. We wanted to face adversity. We wanted to be where our backs were against the wall where we had to dig out of a hole or a tough situation.

“It was funny to me when we lost because reporters would come up to me and ask, ‘What’s wrong with Cathedral?’ People started talking about saying how we’re not as good as people think we are. That was all part of the plan. My answer to those reporters never changed. We always came back stronger and better after a loss because it gave us time to adjust and challenge ourselves and each other a little bit more. We were playing the toughest schedule that one could face. Those losses were never ones that you could look at and say ‘Oh, that was a horrible loss.’ The bigger picture was about the end. So I think everyone sees how we scheduled the way we did.”

The Irish had major talent across the board with each player in the starting lineup having received an offer from a Division I school.

But the talent was not the most memorable part of this journey, Delaney said. “When guys come together, and they really, really love each other, amazing things happen. To actually see these guys do exactly that was phenomenal. I was in awe of it. To see everyone come together, with one common goal, who are willing to sacrifice, stay positive and hold each other accountable is very inspiring.

When guys come together and they really, really love each other, amazing things happen.”

— Head Coach Mr. Jason Delaney

“It’s going to be weird when we walk in to start the preseason workouts and those seniors aren’t there because you’re so used to them being there leading, that it’s going to feel very different for a while. It’s going to be bittersweet, but we chose the way we wanted to go out,” the coach said.

This senior group for the Irish was a very special for Delaney. The group consisted of Cathedral’s new all-time leading scorer and Indiana all-Star Tayshawn Comer, Indiana all-Star Jaxon Edwards, a gritty post player in Jaiden Malichi, along with the bench mob which included Jerren Conway, Gabe Rodriguez and Luke Hern.

Delaney said, “I’m always going to have a special bond with the seniors because they’re the ones that came in and took this program to a whole new level with their character, work ethic and their attitudes. We did not have a single drama issue at all with the players. They just did what they were supposed to do and did things respectfully.

“Tayshawn is the ultimate leader you want on your team. He’s positive, he backs his performance up with his work ethic. With Jaxon, we challenged him a lot. There was a whole different Jaxon this whole State tournament run. You can’t forget about the bench mob either. Those guys were just thankful for the opportunity that they had. Gabe Rodriguez got up in the locker room after the State game and after he was done talking about what this team meant to him, he had everyone in tears. That’s really what it’s all about, being a part of something.

“For us coaches we learn a lot, too. You can’t just focus on the star players and talent on your team. Everybody matters. You see the effect you have on everybody as a coach, not just certain guys.

“Jaiden Malichi also had an amazing attitude this season as well. The kid could’ve been negative but instead he always came prepared to play. He produced in any way he could, every time he was in the game. In most years, he’s a starter here. But when you’re stuck behind the talent that we had in Booker and Davis, that’s tough to compete with. To accept that is even tougher. He was first class all the way.”