By DAVE PEDERSEN
SUN PRESS Newspapers
Waconia may not have thought that Delano’s tallest player would be the long shot to beat the ranked team 65-62 last week.
Dalton Pulis, a 6-foot-7 senior forward, nailed five 3-point baskets as part of his 22 points in the battle for first in the Wright County Conference. Delano entered the game 11-1 overall, while Waconia was 9-2, both ranked in the top 10 in Class 3AA. Both teams now have one loss in league play.
The Tigers followed with a 70-54 triumph over St. Cloud Apollo Friday to be 13-1 on the exceptional season. Delano is home to New London-Spicer Thursday, Jan. 24 and at Hutchinson Tuesday, Jan. 29.
A key factor for Delano is having four players averaging in double figures. Usually, three of the four have good scoring nights. For example, against Waconia Damon Longstreet was held to three points, where he averages 10 points per game. Pulis picked up the pace to score 22, increasing his scoring average to 12.9 points.
“Dalton is a tough match-up for most teams because he is 6-7 and is also a very good perimeter shooter,” said coach Terry Techam. “Over the last year he has improved his ability to drive to the basket and he also has improved his defense and rebounding.”
Delano shot the ball great the first half to go up 41-28. Waconia battled back to within three points with 25 seconds to play. Zach Checkal blocked a shot and another contested 3-point attempt also missed and the Tigers held on for the win.
“The game plan was to play good solid defense and try to keep them off the boards,” adds Techam. “They are big and athletic and have very good guards, which is why they are one of the best teams in the state.”
Pulis had 22 points and six rebounds. Checkal scored 16 points with eight rebounds and six assists. Toby Hanson added 18 points and Arick Neisen had two big steals.
Techam adds how “Any win in our conference is important. If you are not ready to play, anybody in the conference can beat you.”
Against Apollo, Techam said his team played very well at the start of each half. The Tigers had a couple recent games where the team struggled at the start of the second half. However, against Apollo Delano scored the first 10 points of the second half after leading 42-31 at the break.
Checkal powered the offense with 22 points, 11 rebounds, six assists and three steals. Hanson netted 17 points, grabbed five rebounds and had eight assists.
Longstreet contributed 12 points and 10 rebounds. Pulis also had 12 points with five rebounds and four assists. Zach Muchenhirn, Seth Norling and Neisen, “gave us a lot of energy off the bench.”
Delano lost 67-52 to Waconia, improving to 6-0 in the conference. Sophomore Tayler Hedtke hit on 8 of 10 shots for 16 points. Otherwise, shooting was a little off. Sophomore Alex Wittinger added 13 points.
The Tigers play at New London-Spicer Friday, Jan. 25 before returning home to face Hutchinson Jan. 29 and Litchfield Jan. 31.
Contact Dave Pedersen at [email protected]