DELANO — In the first five games of the season, the Delano boys basketball team averaged a high-octane 73.6 points per game, leading to a 4-1 record. A couple conference losses have added up since then, in which Delano scored 47 and 51 points. So head coach Terry Techam decided to make a drastic change to the offense’s uptempo style — rather than play fast and loose, it was time to tighten things up and make opponents work for it on both ends. That strategy paid off in Tuesday night’s 45-43 win over Hutchinson.
“Our conference is just so physical, big and tough. We kind of got it handed to us last week, so we decided to change it up a little bit,” Techam said. “We’ll try to limit possessions and make it easier to defend these big teams. Losing one of our top scorers [Levi Farniok] also forced us to adjust.”
In place of Farniok, sophomore Jackson Stewart stepped into the starting lineup and provided another solid rebounding presence against Hutchinson, pulling down 10 boards and scoring a putback that gave Delano a late 43-41 lead.
Not only did Stewart play a big role down the stretch, a much newer name to the Delano rotation started the game and finished it — junior wing Michael Krueger, who didn’t see any varsity action in the first five games, hit two big three-pointers to stay in the game early in half two and took a charge a couple minutes after that. His primary job was being a ball-mover at the top of the key in the spread offense Delano employed to slow the game down.
“Michael’s a tough, hardworking kid,” Techam said. “We just kind of threw him in a couple weeks ago and tonight he stepped up and hit some big shots for us.”
Krueger and fellow perimeter stopper Ty Weiman worked hard to hold top Hutchinson scorer Sam Rensch to a hard-earned 17 points.
Delano trailed 21-15 at halftime, having trouble getting easy outside looks and giving up an 11-0 Hutch run to close the frame. But Krueger’s three-point burst kept them within a few points most of the second half, trading baskets and free throws until the final seconds.
Down 39-34 with a little more than four minutes left, Will Strandemo’s elbow jumper and a Trey Longstreet floater plus a foul tied it up at 39. Stewart’s big putback gave the Tigers a lead, then Longstreet was fouled at the rim with four seconds remaining. His two free throw makes paired with a final Hutchinson turnover sealed the win.
Trey Longstreet was the main offensive facilitator once again despite a shift in halfcourt strategy. The spread-out pick and roll attack gave him space to operate in open driving lanes and he led the way with 22 points, five rebounds and four assists. Freshman Will Strandemo recently jumped into the starting lineup as well and he continued his strong play as a secondary scorer, adding 11 points.
The slate doesn’t get any easier with Holy Family coming to town Friday and another round of the Wright County East schedule looming. 43 points allowed was a season-best for the Tigers, while 45 points was also a season-low; can that deliberate change in emphasis on both ends hold?
For the complete story and more Delano Herald Journal sports coverage, check out the Feb. 12 edition of the Delano Herald Journal. Click here for subscription information.
Follow Jared Martinson on Twitter: @JaredNHR