DELPHI | Rensselaer was hoping familiarity didn’t breed contempt from Delphi in the opening game of the Class 2A Rensselaer Sectional on Tuesday night.
The host Bombers eliminated the Oracles 40-28 to advance to Friday’s semifinal game against Winamac. North Newton will battle North Judson at 6 p.m. in the first semi-final.
“I felt really good about the way we defended,” said Rensselaer coach Kevin Sims whose Bombers beat the Oracles 40-23 on Feb. 8. “Those two games are probably as good a defense as I’ve had teams play in a long, long time.”
Rensselaer lost at Winamac 56-44 just this past Friday, so it should be an another interesting match-up.
“It’s a challenge, and our kids are looking forward to it,” Sims said. “It’s a flip-flop of what (Tuesday’s) game was. We’re playing them for the second time after they beat us.”
Rensselaer (13-9) jumped out to a 12-3 lead after one quarter against upset-minded Delphi and maintained a 17-10 advantage at the break.
“We had the mindset that this could be our last game,” said junior point guard Bryce Deno, who led the Bombers with 10 points. “No matter what the score was we wanted to leave everything on the floor, and I think that’s what we did (Tuesday).”
Rensselaer took a 26-16 lead into the fourth quarter and had to withstand a Delphi rally.
“We were getting our hands up on their perimeter shooters,“ Deno said.
After Delphi cut the deficit to 32-25, Dalton Souders hit his second 3-pointer of the quarter to put Rensselaer back in control at 35-25 with 2 minutes 25 seconds left.
Souders, who scored eight points off the bench, said he was hesitant shoot a lot from the perimeter in the regular season, but said he felt comfortable out on the floor.
“I felt like I was hot, so I gave it a couple tries,” he said.
Souders finished with eight points off the bench, while Joey Claussen finished with six points and 10 boards.
“We had a lot of guys knocking down shots which helped us a lot,” Deno said. “Dalton Souders, that was huge. He hits them in practice and follows through and does it in the games, too. He did it when we really needed it.”
Souders said the Bombers will have to come out aggressive against Warriors on Friday and play another good defensive game.
“It will be an all-out war,” Sims said. “Their kids play tough, our kids play tough, and it will be physical.”