PENNSAUKEN – With four seconds left in the first half, Andrew Delaney scrapped for a rebound and was alert enough to launch a half-court pass to a teammate, who caught the ball in stride and smoothly sank a 3-pointer.
“Nice pass,” a few of his Blair Academy teammates said to Delaney as he walked off the court Friday night at Bishop Eustace Prep School in a showcase game against Medford Tech.
Blair Academy is an elite hoops school filled with talented players, including two post-graduate players. So the little plays that don’t show up in the scorebook, like that scrappy rebound and heads-up heave Delaney made, are appreciated and acknowledged by the Buccaneers.
Which means Delaney’s all-around effort and performance was embraced by every member of the North Jersey program, as he spent the entire game making every little play matter. And, he made big plays, too, for coach Joe Mantegna, like a baseline drive that ended with a power two-handed layup over a defender.
“He’s doing great, he’s absolutely one of the hardest workers on the team,” said Mantegna. “He has as good of a motor as anyone on the team.”
The unselfish Delaney scored eight points in the 65-35 win over Medford Tech.
“It has been going great,” Delaney said. “It was completely different when I got here and it took a little time to get used to it, the classes are tough and the basketball is tough, but it’s a great experience.”
Delaney, who started the last two seasons at Clearview High School, transferred to start his junior year at Blair Academy, one of the top programs in the state, which boasts NBA alumni Luol Deng, Charlie Villanueva and Royal Ivey.
“He’s coming off the bench and that’s different for him, but he’s been accepting of his role and he’s getting more and more minutes,” said Mantegna, now is in his 19th season. “He’s putting in the hard work every day and he is making us a better team.
“I appreciate his loyalty and I really love having him here.”
Blair is also where Delaney’s older brother, Tim, transferred to for his senior season in 2014-15 after helping Pitman win a Group 1 state championship as a junior.
Of course, Tim won a national championship with Villanova University two years ago and is currently a junior on the No. 1 ranked Wildcats.
Andrew, a powerfully built 6-foot-5 swingman, led the Pioneers in scoring the last two seasons, averaging 12 points as a freshman and 13 points last season.
His younger brother, Matthew, is a 6-5 freshman at St. Augustine, which is ranked No. 7 by the South Jersey Sports Digest.
Andrew Delaney, who is from Mullica Hill, lives on campus at the boarding school in Warren County, which draws players on this year’s 19-3 team from New York, North Carolina, Virginia, and Australia.
“Yeah it’s a homecoming for me,” said Delaney, a Tri-County Conference Royal Division first team pick last year, about playing in South Jersey. “It’s great for me to get to see my family.”
Delaney played on the fabled Eustace court often growing up while playing for Saint Margaret’s, but it’s always special since his uncle Bob Fisicaro is the Crusaders’ second leading all-time scorer behind Kennel Sanchez.
“Yeah, it’s great to play here,” said Delaney, who was watched proudly against Medford Tech by his mother, Jeanine, who was a fabulous forward at Washington Township High School and then at Saint Joseph’s University, as well as her father, Bob Fisicaro Sr. and his uncle Bob.
Delaney, who received a basketball scholarship to Blair, is looking forward to playing Shawnee, ranked No. 4 by the SJSD, Saturday night.
“I know some of their players,” he said. “I think it will be a great experience.”
And, you know Delaney will do whatever little play needed for Blair against the Renegades.
Blair Academy 21 9 16 19 – 65
Medford Tech 12 2 11 10 - 35
B- Jordan Dingle 12, Gabe Ravets 9, Tucker Richardson 5, Keenan Worthington 9, Chris Lowsolo 17, Jaylen Blaker 2, Andrew Delaney 8, Henry Meyers 2, Dy-Jae Person 1.
MT – Laster 9, Conyer 5, Powell 3, Mart-Jones 7, Smith 4, Payden 2, Jernigan 5.