BY DAVID PEDERSEN
Even the return to action of season and career boys basketball scoring leader Toby Hanson, Delano could not overcome the stifling Orono defense in a 56-41 loss in the section title game Thursday in St. Cloud.
Hanson was averaging around 20 points per game this season when suffering a broken wrist and thought to be lost for the season. Delano’s upset victory over top seed Big Lake in the Class 3A, Section 5 semifinals gave Hanson a little more time to heal and he was given the ok to play two days before the title game.
“We never really got into a flow on offense and that is a credit to the defense that Orono played,” notes coach Terry Techam. “We did a nice job of handling their pressure, but struggled to make shots. They were relentless on the boards.”
Orono takes a 21-8 record to the state tournament, winning 12 of the last 13 games. Delano got up by five points early, but Orono stormed back to grab a 20-15 halftime lead. The Tigers played hard in the second half but could not get the lead lower than eight points.
It was rare to have no Delano players score in double figures. Senior Seth Norling and sophomore Matt Kreklow led with nine points each. Junior Sean Campbell had eight points and five rebounds. Senior Damon Longstreet took down 16 rebounds to go with seven points. Hanson had seven points and three assists.
Longstreet and Hanson both played in three section finals, making it to state last season. Hanson finished his Tiger career with 1,526 points as the school’s all-time scorer. Longstreet finished with 918 career points and 618 rebounds.
Techam says it will be tough to replace two guys who have been three year starters. The other seniors are Seth Norling and Seth MacLeod, who battled an ankle problem most of the season. The coach adds how MacLeod contributed significant minutes in the upset win over Big Lake and in the section semifinals.
“Norling had an outstanding season,” adds Techam. “He usually was responsible for most of our ball handling and usually guarded the other teams best perimeter player.”
Top returning players are Campbell and Kreklow, who Techam says played well despite coming into the season with no varsity experience. With Hanson hurt, junior Austin Neisen filled in and did an excellent job on defense and on the boards.
Delano finished the season at 17-11.