WORTHINGTON, Ohio -- On Tuesday night, Delaware Hayes traveled to Thomas Worthington to take on the Cardinals in what appeared to be a major conference matchup on paper. Both teams are battling for a second place finish assuming that Hilliard Bradley continues their dominance. However, a close matchup was far from the game's reality as Thomas Worthington reigned victorious 70-56.
This game was all about picking apart matchups and it was clear early on that the Pacers did not matchup well with the Cardinals at all. Thomas Worthington started the game out with a 6-0 run from senior big man Ben Wight, who Delaware Hayes clearly had no answer for throughout the game.
The Pacers countered with a strong first quarter performance from senior forward Terin Kinsway, who finished the period with seven points by scoring mostly from the perimeter. Despite the strong effort, the Pacers trailed 17-12 after the quarter and the Cardinals were clearly the far more talented team.
The game started to slip further and further away in the second quarter. Thomas Worthington implemented a full-court trap and capitalized on poor decisions made by the Hayes backcourt. These turnovers resulted in easy transition opportunities for easy points and prevented the Pacers from scoring any points in the second quarter until around the three and a half minute mark.
The Cardinals continued to apply pressure on the defensive end by mixing up looks with a 1-2-2 zone press that dropped down into a 3-2. This scheme was incredibly successful too, as the Pacers struggled to find open shots and hit the few open looks they did get. This helped Thomas Worthington take a 36-19 lead into the half.
Throughout the first few minutes of the third there was a slight push back from Delaware Hayes. Leading scorer Nate Griggs found himself much more comfortable working out of the zone along with Kinsway. The duo scored 13 of Delaware’s 15 third quarter points.
Whenever Delaware started to gain momentum, Worthington’s sophomore guards Jalen Sullinger and Isaac Settles had an answer, most notably their back-to-back threes early after Delaware cut the lead to 10.
This was another major matchup problem for the Pacers as they had no answer for Sullinger and struggled with the size and speed combination of the 6-foot-5 Settles on the perimeter.
After a long fourth quarter and some complacent play, Worthington’s lead was trimmed by four points and they won by 14.
Overall, I thought this was an extremely strong showing for Thomas Worthington, who moves to 11-3 on the season and bounces back in breathtaking fashion after a tough loss to Hilliard Bradley. The Cardinals have a busy weekend playing two road games against Dublin Jerome on Friday and Northland on Saturday at the Scholastic Play By Play Classic.
Delaware Hayes now falls to 10-4 on the season, which is nothing to be ashamed of. The Pacers are a solid squad and will attempt to regain their momentum at Dublin Scioto on Friday.
Jalen Sullinger (5’9 G / Thomas Worthington / 2021): The sophomore led the game in scoring with 22 points and had one of the best prospect performances I have seen from a guard all season. He has a incredibly tight handle along with the ability to change speeds and directions at a high level. This allows him to relentlessly get into the paint whenever he pleases, where he can finish at the rim with exceptional body control for his size. Sullinger continued to show off his handling in speed in transition, where he has solid top speed and converted on a few simple passing reads on top of making elementary drive-and-kicks to strong side corners. Defensively, he showed off some anticipation skills in the passing lanes, in particularly when placed in the weak side wing on the 3-2 zone. He does a solid job anticipating passing lanes and that should hopefully translate to team defensive success off the ball when running man-to-man.
The two major components of his offensive game that stick out like a sore thumb are his balance and deceleration ability. These two traits will make him a highly marketable collegiate prospect in the future. His gift of decelerating on a dime combined with one of the better handles in the area are what make him such a dynamic pull-up shooting threat and will allow him to continue to create space for his shot despite his current unideal height. His balance is also a major part of his standout ball handling prowess, but was really put on display when he was shooting off movement. The underclassmen was two for three from deep shooting off movement and knocked down one three off of a bad transition outlet that he had to catch off complete forward momentum, but somehow was still as balanced as if he were shooting a spot up jump shot and buried it. Both pulling up and shooting off movement are such highly valued attributes in a collegiate prospect and Sullinger already does both far better than any prospect in his class in the area. With a much needed bounce back game for the young guard, hopefully Sullinger can continue to build on it going forward.
Isaac Settles (6’5 WG / Thomas Worthington / 2021): Settles pairs up with Sullinger to form the best underclassmen backcourt in the area in terms of collegiate potential. He finished tonight with 17 points. A little bit more raw than his counterpart, the sophomore is still oozing with potential as an two guard with ideal Division I size for the position. He scored in a variety of ways tonight, showing off his spot up shooting stroke by knocking down two threes and also flashing his pull up shot in transition that will be a big part of his game in the future. Mainly though, the sophomore took advantage of his size off the dribble against significantly smaller guards where he powered finishes even through the Pacers’ big men. The most encouraging part of his performance tonight was his passing vision, in particularly into the weak side corner against the Hayes zone. I realize the weak side corner is much easier to find in the zone, but he was the only Cardinal perimeter player that consistently showcased that pass.
Defensively, Settles had a strong showing. Thomas Worthington really maximized his size by putting him at the the top of 1-2-2 zone press and the 3-2 zone, where his long arms made it difficult for any guard to see over him. He also flashed some solid straight line recovery speed that should help him recover back onto his man faster in the future.
Like I previously mentioned, the young guard is just oozing with potential. He already has an exceptional body, size, and guard like movement ability. As he continues to become a more consistent shooter, he has more than enough handling skill to attack closeouts and potential finish above the rim with a little bit more leaping explosion. He should be a very appealing secondary creation option or off ball scorer pending which way his future development takes him, along with forming into a versatile defender. Settles is still a work in progress, but the sky's the limit for him.
Terin Kinsway (6’5 WF / Delaware Hayes / 2019): This was my second time watching Kinsway, and once again he was the most productive player on the court for Hayes against high-level competition. At 6-foot-5, he is probably better utilized as a perimeter oriented four man and his strong frame should not give him any problems defending that position. He does shoot the ball well in spot up situations and builds on that ability with a tremendous first step that allows him to finish at the rim. The senior even made a nice decisive dump off attacking a closeout off the dribble.
Kinsway currently has offers from Indiana Tech and Malone and should be a splendid fit for any NAIA program. He can be utilized as a stretch four that would really help a team in need of some added floor spacing. He should continue to improve his decision making as a passer and off ball defender as well in order to realize his potential.