DALEVILLE, Ind. — Camden Leisure still doesn’t know what’s wrong with him, only that he’ll be out on the court if at all able.
The Daleville boys basketball senior was taken to a hospital Tuesday morning to treat stomach pain, a problem he’s dealt with for the past year, but this was the most severe incident yet.
“I was just shaking bad, sweating, I could barely walk. I was downstairs and I had to call my mom to come get me,” Leisure said. “When I got (to the hospital) I had a 35 heart rate … I went through the CT scan, they still haven’t found anything, so I have an appointment Monday to go see someone special for it.”
Leisure is suffering from gastrointestinal issues and being tested for Celiac Disease, although he’s delayed seeing a specialist to be diagnosed until after the season. He puts the team above even his health, and was back out on the court the same night after his Tuesday morning scare.
The point guard initially didn’t tell his teammates what happened and, instead, continued his historic season. He finished with 13 points and nine assists in a 62-49 win at Alexandria, adding to Leisure’s career and single-season assists records he broke in early February.
“I didn’t want them to worry about me,” Leisure said. “I wanted them to focus on the game and be ready for it.”
Leisure played the next night as well, repeating his physically-fit masquerade with a game-high 20 points at home on Senior Night against Randolph Southern. The Broncos lost 71-61, however, due to their ongoing consistency struggles.
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Daleville’s performance this season (12-9) has been unpredictable. Half-to-half, quarter-to-quarter, the team looks like either a sectional-title favorite or a group that’s never played together.
It’s been true from the MEC Jamboree on Nov. 20, when the Broncos lost the first frame 26-12 to Wes-Del before winning the half 39-36, to their regular-season ending loss to the Rebels on Wednesday, in which they trailed 39-18 at halftime before cutting the deficit to as few as three points in the fourth quarter.
The second half has, typically, been the bigger issue, when Daleville comes out of the locker room flat. It happened at home against Class 2A No. 9 Wapahani (17-4) on Feb. 18, with the teams tied 25-25 at halftime until the Broncos lost 68-36.
“It’s just one of those things where we’re mentally not there yet, but we’re getting there. It’s just mental lapses,” head coach Ashley Fouch said. “We see really good energy in spurts, and I keep trying to tell them, ‘If you would just have really good energy for the first two quarters, you would secure a win in two quarters.’ … It’s just mental stuff that we’re trying to fix, and we’re growing in it. Going into sectionals with that second half, I’m pleased.”
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When the Broncos are right, they’re a thrill to watch. Leisure is constantly pushing the pace of play, often colliding with opposing big men at the rim and drawing fouls or finding shooters Dylan Scott and Meryck Adams on the wings.
Senior Trevion Johnson, the team’s leading scorer at about 18 points per game, runs the the floor well and uses his athleticism to score inside and grab rebounds. He can hit jumpers depending on the night, and his elite energy on both ends against Randolph Southern sparked the comeback.
“That’s probably the best we’ve done in a second half the whole season,” Johnson said. “Coach said she was proud of that and don’t worry about the rest … that’s the hardest we’ve fought as a team.”
Leisure and Fouch both described the group as offensively-driven. Daleville feeds off scoring to fuel its defense, rather than the other way around like the average team. Shooting, by nature, comes and goes, so that could be the reason for the Broncos’ volatile performance.
The challenge heading into sectionals on March 1 is finding ways to replicate the highs while avoiding the subpar stretches.
“We’re going to focus more on being a team. We’re not going to let 1-on-1s happen, we’re not going to let our emotions get to us,” Leisure said. “Whenever we get the crowd going and we get the momentum going, it just seems like everything flows for us. Meryck, I don’t think he’ll miss a shot if he gets going, and Dylan, he’ll start doing his thing and really being a basketball player.”
Luckily, Daleville got arguably the best sectional draw of all East Central Indiana teams. It’ll face Anderson Prep (1-19) in the first round and potentially Cowan (4-15) in the semifinals, leaving the other three winning teams on the other side of the bracket.
The Broncos were together for the tournament draw reveal, and they were happy to receive a relatively easier path. But they know nothing is guaranteed in Indiana high school basketball, especially with this team, so Daleville isn’t taking any opponent lightly.
There’s also no reason to assume anything. Daleville hasn’t won a sectional title since 2009, and with three of its five starters being seniors, the team knows 2022 is the last chance to make some noise.
Leisure, certainly, has given his all to hoist the trophy, and Johnson said he’s more mentally prepared for the postseason than ever. The Broncos have as good a chance as any to win it all.
“We’re trying to write our own history instead of being the team everybody (thinks) Daleville is, not the very good team and not the team that’s the 1985 sectional team,” Leisure said. “People still think we’re the same old Daleville, not very good, they’re just the little kids that can’t do anything. But I think we’re changing that now.”