Updated: Tuesday, March 6, 2018, 8:36 PM
It made no sense to yell instructions.
It was too loud.
It wasn’t necessary to yell instructions anyway.
Kolby Braxton had the situation under control.
“That’s a point guard right there,” Delsea coach Tom Freeman said of his senior leader, who guided the Crusaders to a 53-40 victory over Seneca on Tuesday night in the South Jersey Group 3 championship game.
Braxton scored 15 points and junior guard Javon Gordon scored all 12 of his points in the second half for fourth-seeded Delsea (25-5), which won its first sectional title since 2014.
Senior forward Aziz Saud scored 10 points and senior guard Nate Cox added nine with three steals for Delsea, which won its 12th in a row and advanced to face the Moorestown-Nottingham winner in Thursday night’s Group 3 state semifinals.
“We’ve been dreaming about this for years,” Cox said. “Now that it’s here, it’s an amazing feeling.”
The Crusaders celebrated in style, with players taking turns lifting a teammate in the air to hold aloft the sectional championship trophy in front of cheering students, parents and other supporters of the program.
“Pure happiness,” Braxton said of the feeling atop his teammates’ shoulders.
Senior swingman Mike Ginyard scored 14 and senior guard Jack Brockett generated seven points with eight rebounds, three assists and two blocks for second-seeded Seneca (17-13).
“I couldn’t be prouder of our guys,” Seneca coach Sean Kennevan said. “I can’t say enough about these seniors. Mike and Jack, they’ve been our leaders, they’ve been mentors to the younger guys, they’ve meant so much to this program.”
Braxton led all scorers, draining a trio of three-pointers and going 4-for-4 from the foul line in the fourth quarter. But his points were secondary in importance to his overall play.
It was Braxton’s floor generalship – his passing, decision-making, cool under pressure — that guided Delsea through the high-stakes game before a near-capacity crowd with dueling, chanting student sections in Seneca’s gymnasium.
“I knew I had to step up and lead my team,” Braxton said. “Championship game, everybody is going to be a little bit nervous. We had to play through that and do what we do.”
Braxton got Delsea on the board with a three-pointer. He fed Saud and senior Will Hawkins for three-pointers in the second quarter, as the Crusaders seized command and took a 23-17 lead into the locker room.
“Kolby is an elite basketball player and it makes me so sad that he’s underrated,” Cox said. “His basketball I.Q. is so high.”
Delsea’s defense was a constant. The Crusaders blocked six shots, lifted eight steals and harassed Seneca into a difficult shooting night.
“They may not be the best basketball players but they are quick as heck,” Kennevan said. “They close out.”
Freeman paced the sideline, trying to yell instructions to players through the din.
Usually was no use.
Ultimately it was no matter.
Braxton had this for the Crusaders.
“He couldn’t hear me but he didn’t need to,” Freeman said. “He was the general out there. He ran the club. He did an unbelievable job.”
Delsea 6 17 12 18 – 53
Seneca 9 8 12 11 – 40
D: Javon Gordon 12, Kolby Braxton 15, Nate Cox 9, Aziz Saud 10, Will Hawkins 5, Kobey Evans 2.
S: Jack Brockett 7, Mike Ginyard 14, Nygee Kinlaw 2, Johnny Kennevan 3, Dane Kane 3, Steve Rodeschin 3, Nate Roseboro 8.
Read full story: Kolby Braxton powers Delsea past Seneca