That group of seniors who have stepped up have been with DeLong all the way and haven't seen much postseason time. In fact, they were freshmen last time Milton was in the District 4 playoffs.
Jacobs (229 points, 14.3 ppg.) and Baker (126, 7.9) have been just two monumental cogs for Milton's success. Jacobs is a nice outside threat for the Black Panthers, sinking an area-high 38 treys. Add Diggan (210, 13.1) into the mix, and Milton has a solid trio on the court that have combined for 71 three-pointers.
While DeLong knew this team had the ability to make a run since day one, his players had to get over some mental hiccups.
"I knew that there are a lot of mental hurdles these kids have to get over with all the losing that's been done in the last few years," DeLong said. "That's hard to understand when you haven't been in that position (to win), and really I say at the beginning of the year, each win kind of slowly chipped away at the doubts they may have had."
One of the biggest wins happened earlier this month when the Black Panthers beat HAC-I foe Shikellamy, a talented squad led by Ernie Tyler, C.J. Tyler and at the time, Taylor Mantz, 60-56.
"That's a team that a lot of people were picking to battle it out with Danville (in the HAC-I). To beat them, that's the point where everybody realized this could be a lot bigger than just making it into the District 4 playoffs," DeLong said.
Before the season began, DeLong thought the Black Panthers could easily contend for the HAC-I title, another bold statement for a squad that went 3-10 in the league just last year. However, Milton took a 7-1 league mark into Danville against an Ironmen squad that was undefeated in the division (7-0) last Friday.