Eagles set for quarterfinal battle with Orioles
After picking up the program’s first playoff win in 28 years last week, Youngsville coach Jesse DeLoof knows what his team needs to do to get another win tonight in the District 10 Class 2A quarterfinals against Rocky Grove.
“The playoffs are a different animal,” DeLoof said. “The effort and energy is not an issue. Execution is the only variable. We have to just go out and execute.”
The Eagles (18-5) certainly did that in the first half of their 57-45 first-round win over Mercer. They struggled from the field in the second half, but the defense and foul shooting kept the Mustangs from closing the gap.
That’s been one of Youngsville’s trademarks this season. The Eagles have found a variety of ways to win games.
“We’ve played in a variety of games this year,” DeLoof said. “Blowouts, close games, won late, won in overtime. We’ve seen it all.”
When the Eagles need to get something going, they turn to senior Gage Hendrickson.
Hendrickson is one of the top scorers in District 10, averaging 17.4 points per game. But the 6-2, 225-pound forward does much more than score. As DeLoof has pointed out on numerous occasions, he rebounds, passes and can bring the ball up the floor as well. It’s what DeLoof likes so much about this team, the parts are interchangeable.
Junior guards Joe Mack (7.0 ppg) and Ethan Kesterholt (5.8 ppg) see the floor and distribute well. They’re also capable of putting up big point totals when needed as both have been top scorers at points this season.
Junior forward Timber Bower (8.6 ppg) provides an outside-in option. Bower, who recently returned to the lineup following an injury, has connected on 22 3-pointers this season.
He’s also started to show a greater proclivity for taking it inside as the season has progressed.
Arguably the most athletic Eagle is junior Brady Olewine. He’s the team’s second-leading scorer at just under 10 points per game (9.7). Olewine also has a knack for getting in the passing lanes defensively, especially with his impressive vertical.
Junior Austin Peterson has seen an increase in minutes as Bower works his way back, and senior Owen Proctor and junior Dominic Dell provide steady options off the bench.
Rocky Grove (14-8) had a first-round bye due to opt-outs. The Orioles finished third in Region 2 behind Farrell and Lakeview.
The Orioles have a balanced scoring attack led by a trio of senior guards. Gabe Francic is the leading scorer with 12.1 points per game. Classmates Eli Dickson (11.0 ppg) and Zac Clayton (8.7 ppg) aren’t far behind. Sophomore Isaac Clayton is averaging just shy of 10 points per game (9.45).
“They remind me of Kane,” DeLoof said. “They have guards who can score.”
DeLoof and assistant coach Dave Sherman didn’t bask in the first round win long. By Saturday morning they were already preparing for Rocky Grove.
“We watched a lot of film,” DeLoof said. “We talked to coaches and looked at mutual opponents. At this point in the season, you know what everyone does. They’re not going to catch you off-guard.”
Additionally, the Eagles arranged for a Monday scrimmage with Warren.
“Our first five or six guys need to see the caliber of players they’re going to see Friday,” DeLoof said. “If we can run stuff that works against Warren, it’s going to work Friday. We want to give it that feel, make (the scrimmage) feel like a game.”
The two teams have spent a lot of time together through the summer and met in the regular season. While there’s certainly a competitive rivalry between the two, there’s also mutual respect.
“We have a lot of respect for Coach (Jeff) Berdine and the program,” DeLoof said.
The Eagles and Orioles are scheduled for a 6 p.m. tip at Oil City High School.