There’s no time like crunch time for Deer Creek-Mackinaw senior Nick DeBolt.
With 1:26 left in a boys basketball game against Delavan Monday in the first round of the Williamsville Holiday Tournament, DeBolt broke a 47-all tie with a corner 3-pointer to push the Chiefs to the second round with a 57-50 win over Delavan.
Neal Scheuermann found the senior open in the corner for the go-ahead bucket.
“Neal put me in a situation to make a good play,” DeBolt said. “I owe that all to him. He had a double team that left me wide open.”
“I have total trust in him shooting that shot, and he’s shooting it with confidence,” Dee-Mack coach John Hughs said of DeBolt. “If he gets it again, I hope he takes it.”
It was the second time this season DeBolt has knocked down a crunch-time bucket, with the previous coming against Flanagan. The senior had 18 points in the game, including 12 in the back-and-forth second half.
Though it was a senior that knocked down the biggest shot of the game, sophomore Levi Scheuermann scored a game-high 20 points for the Chiefs. Hughs said the outburst was a week in the making.
“He’s been that way all last week in practice,” Hughs said. “He’s super athletic and makes plays that I don’t think there are many people on the floor can make besides him.”
Dee-Mack (6-3) raced out to a 16-5 first-quarter lead before a Delavan (3-6) rally pulled the game within five points entering the second quarter.
Delavan’s Tollin Johnson and Joey Matthews sparked a seven-point run to tie the game midway through the second frame.
Johnson scored 11 points off the bench for coach Ryon Kramer’s squad.
“We never even took him off the court,” Kramer said. “On both ends of the floor he was the solid factor and steadied us. He did a nice job for us.”
The Panthers outscored the Chiefs 17-9 in the second quarter to take a three-point lead into halftime.
“I was happy to the way we responded to that at least, we didn’t just give in,” Kramer said. “I took a lot of good out of the game, we just didn’t execute well at the end.”
“We kind of got up and thought Delavan was going to sit down and not play, and they’re too good of a program and too well-coached to do that,” Hughs said of the second quarter. “We got into some foul trouble and had some different lineups out there. It’s a credit to them, but we have to do a better job when we have a team down and feeling that and stepping on it.”
The teams exchanged baskets in the third quarter, with neither team holding a lead greater than five points in the frame. The Panthers took a one-point lead into the fourth quarter.
Noah Jeckel knocked down five of his nine free throws in the final quarter, capping off an 18-point performance that saw him go 9-for-9 from the charity stripe.
Joey Matthews added 12 points for the Panthers, who have lost four straight games.
Dee-Mack junior Neal Scheuermann had 15 points, nine of which came in the fourth quarter.
The eighth-seeded Chiefs have won six straight games and take on Peoria Quest Charter Academy at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the second round of the tournament.
Delavan, who has the ninth seed in the tournament, plays Calvary at noon Tuesday in the consolation bracket.