Irish Earn Hard Fought Victory

The Irish defeated Fishers 47-44 in a game that could become an annual rivalry.


Lacey Nix

The team celebrates a teammates dunk during the game.

After the final buzzer sounded, Head Coach Mr. Jason Delaney stood at mid-court, his arms outstretched in relief as the Irish Nightmare waved at the departing Fishers student section. Delaney had just coached his team to a three point win over the Tigers, whose 11-10 record does not reflect their skill level. He described the game as “heated”, and has the hope that the game could become an annual occurrence, and turn into a rivalry.

The 47-44 victory continued what has been a successful new year for the Irish. They are 9-3 in 2023, and hold a 15-4 record overall as of Feb. 13. This includes wins over Carmel, Pinkerton Central (OH), and Western (KY), all on the road.

But recently, the team has been dealing with some adversity, as they have had two starters miss significant time with injury over the past month. Senior Jake Davis, a Mercer commit averaging 12.2 points per game, suddenly suffered a hematoma in his leg after a City Tournament quarterfinal win over Purdue Polytechnic on Jan. 19. Point guard Lebron Gough suffered a dislocated shoulder early in the City Tournament final, which ended in a 61-51 loss to Crispus Attucks. Davis has not returned, but according to Delaney he will be back for the State Tournament. Gough returned for the Fishers game, but played limited minutes both in that game and the next day against Franklin Central.

Despite suffering two losses in six games since the injuries, Delaney believes that some good may have come from the adversity, as younger, more inexperienced players have been thrust into bigger roles. He said, “It stinks to go through it at times, because you’d like to have your whole arsenal out there. But other guys are getting better, which I think in the long run is going to help us.” He specifically mentioned junior Anthony Fields and sophomore Brady Koehler as two players that have stepped up in the absences of Davis and Gough.

Coach Delaney calls out an adjustment. Delaney and the Irish have compiled a 15-4 record. (Lacey Nix)

 Fields has taken on the role of primary ball handler at times, as well as being a lockdown defender, and Delaney said, “He makes an impact on the defensive end. He gets a lot of steals and hands on the basketball, deflections. I think he does a really good job of that.”

Koehler, a slim, 6’7 wing player, has taken more of a scoring role, and though he plays limited minutes, is attracting attention from the next level. Delaney said, “(Koehler) is one that a lot of colleges really like for down the road, because he can shoot the ball, and he can go off the dribble.” Koehler was named to the All-City Tournament team after averaging 11 points over the three games, including a season-high of 21 against Purdue Polytechnic. 

The team faced off against Joliet West on Feb. 4, in the last of its games against premier teams from out of state. The matchup was headlined by senior Xavier Booker, a McDonald’s All-American and Michigan State recruit, facing off against Jeremy Fears, a Joliet West senior with the same accolades. The two teams went back and forth, with Booker and fellow senior Jaron Tibbs combining for 44 points. Fears scored 20, and helped to maintain a second half lead on the way to a 60-56 Joliet West victory. 

The game against Fishers then served as an opportunity for the team to bounce back. The Tigers were led by sophomore Jalen Haralson, a 6’7 point guard who is ranked as one of the top ten players in the class of 2025. Haralson was coming off of a 48 point explosion against Anderson just three days before. 

Delaney gave the task of guarding Haralson to senior Kamari Slaughter, and the transfer from Portage did not let him down. Haralson was held to 13 points, and he made just two shots from the field. Delaney said, “I thought Kamari did a really good job of keeping (Haralson) on one side of the floor.” The rest of the defense stepped up down the stretch as well, putting pressure on Haralson and the other Fishers ball handlers to get the ball down the court. 

The team had a quick turnaround after their big win against the Tigers, as they faced Franklin Central the next day. They came out with a 58-39 win in a game where no one person did a majority of the scoring. Everyone contributed in the effort, and Koehler led the scoring with 12. 

The team now literally enters the home stretch of the regular season. They have three games remaining—all at home—against very good teams. First comes a rematch with Bishop Chatard on Feb. 14. The Irish won the first meeting in the City Tournament semifinal 65-53, but they held only a one point lead at halftime. This time, Delaney is sure not to underestimate the Trojans. He said, “(Chatard) is gonna bring it.”

That’s the thing about being at Cathedral. Everyone raises their level. Stats don’t really matter.” 

— Coach Delaney

The team will then host Louisville Male (KY) on Feb. 18, in what is the final game they will play against out-of-state competition. Male is the 17th best team in Kentucky according to MaxPreps, but Delaney is expecting them to put up a similar fight to last year, when the Irish won in overtime thanks to a Tayshaun Comer game-winner. Delaney said, “(Male’s) coaching staff is great. As the season’s gone on, they’ve gotten better because they have a program. It wasn’t based on one or two players.” 

Xavier Booker rises up for 2 of his 7 points, dunking on his defender. (Lacey Nix)

To finish the regular season, the team will face a talented Zionsville team on Feb. 21. The Eagles are a great shooting team, and they are led by senior point guard and Penn State recruit Logan Imes. Delaney said, “We both wanted to play each other going into the tournament, just so you’re playing against great players.” That game will be the team’s senior night, and they will start State Tournament play the week of Feb. 27. 

The Irish will once again play in Sectional 10, one of the toughest Sectionals in the state that includes Arsenal Tech, Crispus Attucks, Lawrence Central, Lawrence North, North Central and Warren Central. They will get their draw on Feb. 19.