MUSCODA – Darlington closed the first half with a 40-1 scoring run to pull away for an 86-46 victory over host Riverdale and finish off a perfect regular season at the Riverdale Middle School gym on Thursday, Feb. 23.
Darlington’s starting five combined for 52 points in the opening half to lead the #2-ranked Redbirds (22-0 overall, 14-0 SWAL) out to a 63-22 halftime lead and they never looked back. Senior guard Will Schwartz scored all 23 of his points in the first half, while fellow seniors Trevor Johnson (nine points), Ryan Glendenning (eight), Brayden McDonald (seven), Hunter Johnson (six) and Josh Soper (six) got the ‘Birds flying high.
“I was very pleased to finish as undefeated conference champs. It is also nice to head into the playoffs on a positive note,” stated Darlington head coach Tom Uppena, who led the Redbirds to the SWAL championship in his first season at the helm. “We shot the ball well, and I feel we are ready to move on to the second season. We are very happy with how the regular season went, but we have more we want to accomplish.”
The Chieftains (1-21, 0-14) were within a basket of the ‘Birds midway through the stanza when they kicked their offense to very high gear. Their 40-1 run put them up by 41 points at the intermission, and they cruised in from there with nine different players scoring in the second half to keep the ‘Birds comfortably in the lead.
Glendenning finished with 11 points and McDonald chipped in with a season-high nine points. T. Johnson also netted nine points, while H. Johnson and Soper added eight each. Bailey McGuire scored all six of his season-high points in the second half for Darlington.
Dakota Fiebranz scored nine points to lead Riverdale, who connected on 10 of their 15 made field goals from beyond the 3-point arc.
The WIAA Division 4 boys’ basketball tournament began on Tuesday, Feb. 28. The Redbirds received the #1-seed and with it an opening round bye.
“I’m extremely excited for the playoffs. This is the reason for the season. It will be nice to have a bye and be able to prepare a little more, but at the same time a week is a long time to wait in anticipation. We need to keep our focus this next week and have our best week of preparation,” Uppena said.
Darlington will host the winner of the regional quarterfinal game between #8 Cambridge (8-14) vs. #9 Lancaster (8-14) in a regional semifinal contest at DHS on Friday, March 3, starting at 7 p.m. If they win on Friday, they will also host the regional final game on Saturday, March 4, also starting at 7 p.m.
Darlington………….. 63 23 – 86
Riverdale…………… 22 24 – 46
Darlington – Hunter Johnson 8, Will Schwartz 23, Brayden McDonald 9, Ryan Glendenning 11, Mason Stone 2, Josh Soper 8, Bailey McGuire 6, Trevor Johnson 9, Stryker Fitzsimons 4, Tony Ruesga 4, Chad Golackson 2. Totals – 36 6-11 86.
Riverdale – Krueger 3, Haffner 6, Schaefer 6, Frazier 2, Anderson 6, Fiebranz 9, Mueller 5, Hougan 5, Schneider 1, Sperry 3. Totals – 15 6-11 46.
3-point goals– D 8 (Schwartz 3, McDonald 1, Glendenning 2, McGuire 1, T. Johnson 1), R 10 (Krueger 1, Haffner 2, Schaefer 2, Anderson 2, Fiebranz 1, Mueller 1, Hougan 1). Total fouls– D 13, R 9. Fouled out– None.