Little Delaware stood tall in the recent National Senior Olympic Basketball Tournament, finishing fourth in the nation in the 50-55 age division in the three-day event held in Houston, Texas.
Leading the way for the First State was Jim Freel, a former All-Stater at St. Mark’s High. Freel scored 28 points in one game and led the Delaware Gold team in scoring throughout.
“It was great fun by all and a worthy experience,’’ said Gino Mirolli, one of the Delaware Gold coaches. “Jimmy Freel was awesome and the talk of the tournament.”
Other Delaware Gold team members were Ken Dill, Gary Schils, Rod Moyer, Leon Tucker, John Malik and Devreal Wilson. Tony Figliola also coached the Delaware team, which was made up of players from Gino’s Senior Basketball League, which plays its games at Springer Middle School in Brandywine Hundred.
According to Mirolli, Delaware Gold would have done even better if not for an early injury to Dill, a former All-Stater at Christiana High and captain at the University of Delaware.
“With a healthy Kenny, we would have gone to the final,’’ he said.
Delaware Gold opened pool play with a 73-32 victory over New Mexico and a 56-44 victory over Mississippi before losing to Florida 51-47. Their 2-1 record in pool play made Delaware Gold the seventh seed in the Flight A double-elimination bracket, where they lost by three points to Georgia, the 2009 national champion.
Delaware Gold then avenged its loss to Florida, upsetting the No.2 seed 58-49 and whipped California 56-44 before being eliminated in a nine-point loss to Georgia.
Still, the First State left the Lone Star State with a bronze medal, which isn’t bad considering that Delaware was the smallest state in the tournament.
Another Delaware team also had an impressive showing – the Delaware Diamonds competed in the 60-64 age division and finished with a 2-3 record and in eighth place overall after opening pool play at 2-1. The Diamonds beat Texas and Hawaii and lost to Texas and South Carolina twice, once by two points and once by one point in overtime.
The Diamond players were Bob Heffelfinger, Ted Brown, Kent St. Pierre, John Gantzhorn, George Howard and Hugh Campbell.