Broncos make a push to Sweet 16

Published 9:58 am Wednesday, March 8, 2017

After closing out the regular season with three straight wins against rivals Sussex Central, Windsor and Division 2A perennial power Brunswick, the Broncos earned a number two seed in the conference tournament, where they would again knock off their arch rival, the Tigers of Sussex Central.

Drelyn Ford on a jump shot. — Frank Davis

The win jolted the Broncos on to the conference championship game and, regardless of the win or loss, the Broncos earned a trip to the East Regional Tournament and the round of the final 16 in the state, also known as the Sweet 16. In a game that would consist of small runs put together by both teams the Yellow Jackets of Northampton would come out victorious with an 80-71 victory.

The Broncos were led in scoring by the conference CO-player of the year, Deuntae Jefferson, who had a game high 26 points. The Yellow Jackets finished the regular season along with the conference tournament being undefeated in both the conference and Division 1A.

Both teams represented the East Region in the regional tournament with a state tournament birth on the line.

The regional tournament consisted of eight teams in the east side of the state and eight teams in the west side of the state that were ranked based off of regular season power points.

The Broncos earned the number six seed in the region, which earned them a trip to Lancaster against one of the preseason state title favorites, the Red Devils of Lancaster. The Red Devils are down in Division 1A from Division 2A where they won a state title in 2012.

The Broncos took some early blows from the home favorite, Lancaster, and fell behind by 15 points early in the second quarter but wouldn’t go down without a fight. The Broncos battled and clawed their way to a 35-31 deficit with a couple of minutes left to play in the first half before the Red Devils would knock down a couple of big shots to end the half with a 41-31 lead over the Broncos. The Broncos kept fighting but were unable to connect offensively in the second half as the Red Devils were able to connect on the way to a 76-52 victory.

“My hat is off to Coach [Tim] Rice and his boys from Lancaster,” said Broncos Coach Robby Cutchins. “They are going to be a very tough out in the state tournament! For us, it is tough to swallow knowing that we were only 32 minutes away from qualifying for the state tournament when ultimately most didn’t give us a shot to be in this situation or this deep in to the season.

“I’m so happy for this group being able to believe in one another, myself and continuously fight night in and night out when we were an underdog for a majority of the season. It just speaks volumes for what we have accomplished. This will provide much more of an appetite this off season as we will get to work preparing for next season with a lot of the youth that we having coming back.”

The following Broncos earned honors this season. Deuntae Jefferson and Drelyn Ford were recognized as first team in the Tri-Rivers All District Team, with honorable mention going to Ryan Aylward. Jefferson and Ford were also recognized as the first team in the Conference 41 All Conference Team, with Aylward receiving second, and honorable mention going to Dajon Frazier and Nyjey Pope. Ford was also recognized in the second team all region.