If you listened to Delta basketball coach Ryan Ripke after the game Friday you would’ve thought his girls just had lost a huge NWOAL contest against the Swanton Bulldogs.
“I didn’t like the way we responded to their pressure, I think we are better than that. We didn’t shoot it very well, we didn’t make as many free throws as we expect,” said the veteran Panther coach.
But what the Panthers did get was one Swanton miss at the end to hold off a furious Bulldog comeback for a 43-41 win.
“All in all we made enough plays to win. I don’t want to take anything away from what they did at all. They created those turnovers at the end and made us do things that we don’t normally do,” explained Ripke.
The Panthers jumped out to a 14-6 first quarter lead thanks to a couple Maddie Mattimore hoops and a pair of long range howitzers from Brooklyn Wymer, and that lead expanded to 25-14 at the break as Braelyn Wymer knocked down two more triples in the second quarter.
Abby Freeman’s power move and Mattimore’s steal and score gave Delta their biggest advantage at 33-20 with a minute left in the third before Bridget Harlett scored a putback to get it within 11 at the end of three.
A 9-1 run at the beginning of the fourth though, put Swanton right back in the game.
Aricka Lutz scored on a fast break, then was fortunate the backboard was in front of her line drive triple that fell through.
Averie Lutz scored on a baseline drive and Haley Nelson scooped up a loose ball when two Panthers muffed a long pass interception to close the gap to 34-31.
Five of six from the line pushed the lead back to 39-31 with 1:47 left but the Bulldogs weren’t done yet.
Brooklyn Wymer missed a breakaway off the press breaker and Nelson countered at the other end.
Grace Sonick missed a pair from the line and Aricka Lutz scored with 65 ticks left to close the gap to 39-35.
After another Delta turnover, Nelson scored off a rebound 11 seconds later to make it a two point game.
Freeman got 2 of 2 from the stripe to double what Averie Lutz did for Swanton, giving Delta a three point lead at the 23 second mark.
Mattimore could’ve put the Panthers in control from the line with 12 to go but only hit 1 of 2, leaving the door open when Sidney Taylor rammed a triple off the glass and in to make it 42-41 with 3.1 on the clock.
Swanton fouled Freeman with 2.2 left and again the Panther guard only could hit 1 of 2.
And again on a long inbounds, the Panthers whiffed on the interception but Averie Lutz’ hurried try was wide at the buzzer.
“It was two good basketball teams that have title hopes,” said Ripke. “It’s too bad we had to play each other right away the first league game but I guess that’s what happens. You have two teams that know each other well, maybe don’t like each other very much and what you get is a game like you just saw.”
Mattimore had 13 points and Freeman 12 for the Panthers.
Swanton did not have a player reach double figures. Nelson was their high scorer with nine.
The Panthers remained undefeated on the season at 11-0 after knocking off Stryker on Saturday. The Bulldogs defeated Toledo Christian Saturday and is 7-4 on the year.
Swanton travels to Archbold for a league contest on Friday. Delta hosts Wauseon Friday and faces Lima Bath on Saturday.
Reach Joe Blystone at firstname.lastname@example.org