DELTA MEN OPEN UP CONFERENCE WITH ROAD WIN
Thursday night, the Delta College men's basketball team opened up the MCCAA Eastern conference season on the road at Wayne County Community College. The Pioneers were looking to keep their undefeated record intact and keep their impressive season rolling. Standing in their way was a tough and physical Wildcat team that had also found early season success by notching victories against some of the nation's top junior college teams. The Pioneers and Wildcats would battle back and forth all night long. In the end, the Pioneer's depth would prove to be too much for the Wildcats and the Delta men secured an 83-75 victory.
The Pioneers jumped out to an early first half lead, 13-11, when Cedric Moten nailed a corner three pointer and Peyton Miller knocked down an elbow jump shot. With eight minutes left in the half a Martel Handley no-look pass found Leonte Parker for a lay-up and the Pioneers led 24-16. The Wildcats would fight back and cut the Pioneer lead to 32-28 with four minutes left. The Delta men would then go on a 9-2 run of their own and another Moten three pointer gave the Pioneers their biggest lead of the half 41-30. Wayne County would outscore the Pioneers down the stretch but the Pioneers would take a seven point lead, 44-37, into the locker room.
In the first two minutes of the second half, the Wildcats came out with a fury and tied the game up at 44-44. The next eight minutes were dominated by the Pioneers. A Martel Handley three pointer and slam dunk capped off a 21-6 run and gave the Pioneers their biggest lead of the night at 65-50. Wayne County would once again battle back and with an 11-2 run closed the Pioneer lead to 67-61 with seven minutes left in the game. A Virgil Walker Jr. basket and free throw followed up by a Torandis Mack lay-up pushed the Pioneer lead back to 73-62. The Wildcats would keep battling back but a key basket by Peyton Miller and some clutch free throw shooting sealed the deal for the Pioneers.
"This was truly a team victory," said Head Coach Carlos McMath. "We got contributions from a lot of different guys tonight. For example, Vincent McKinney didn't fill up the stat sheet but tonight he played great defense against Wayne's leading scorer and he won every 50-50 ball."
The Pioneers were led by Martel Handley's 22 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists. Virgil Walker added 16 points and a career high 21 rebounds. Cedric Moten had 12 points and Peyton Miller had 10 points. Torandis Mack had a team high 5 assists.
"We can enjoy this victory tonight but tomorrow it's back to business and preparation for Oakland," said McMath. "I am happy for the guys and the early season success but we need to remain focused and take care of business every day. Every game in conference brings a new challenge and Oakland is a very good basketball team. We need to be ready to box out on the defensive end and handle the pressure on the offensive end."
Next up for the Pioneers (9-0, 1-0) will be the Oakland Community College Raiders (7-5, 0-1). The Delta men will look to end a four game losing streak against Oakland, with their last victory over the Raiders coming in the 2014-2015 season. The two teams will face off Saturday at 3:00 in Pioneer Gymnasium.