LIBERTY CENTER – Delta girls basketball passed another test against an opponent in the top half of the Northwest Ohio Athletic League, putting together a strong second half performance in a 53-36 win at Liberty Center Thursday night.
“It was a grind it out win,” said head coach Ryan Ripke after the game. “It sounds kind of funny with it being a 17-point win. But that’s what it was because, we just had to keep extending the lead. Little by little. And at halftime I kind of felt like, instead of going on 8-0 runs and 10-0 runs, we were kind of going on 4-0 runs. Maybe some 6-0 runs. And then they’d come back and they would hit a big shot. Then it (our lead) would shrink a little bit. I thought there in the second half we did a much better job of extending some of those runs.”
The Panthers got out to a 10-2 lead in the opening quarter with a three-pointer from Brooklyn Green, a bucket on a back cut from Abby Freeman, a basket inside by Green, and Brooklyn Wymer’s three-point play. Wedged in between was Kenzie Detmer’s bucket for Liberty Center, their first points of the game.
Olivia Leatherman of Liberty Center then cut into the Panther lead a little more with a triple, while Loganne Weaver split a pair from the foul line and on the next possession made a basket to make it 10-8 after one.
Delta was led in scoring by Green who finished with 17 points. In the second stanza she and some of the other Panthers helped start a run, enabling them to pull away.
With the margin now sitting at 16-12 after one of two at the line from Freeman, Green split a pair herself and also added a bucket to put them up seven with 4:05 left in the half.
“She’s doing a much better job of getting herself ready to score before she gets the basketball. And you could see it tonight,” said Ripke on Green. “We were really trying to spread the floor and get some driving lanes because they (Liberty Center) were really packing it in. Once again, Jerica (Hollenbaugh) does a great job of coming over and committing to helping (defend) the penetration. And that left Brooklyn wide open down there on the block.”
The two teams continued to answer one another as the Tigers got a jumper from Peyton Spieth and Weaver’s drive to the hoop, but the Panthers responded with five straight from Maddie Mattimore. Weaver made it 24-18 with another drive and score, however, a Brooklyn Wymer three bumped the difference back to nine at the half.
The lead for the Panthers hung around double digits for much of the third quarter, then a hard drive to the basket by Mattimore put them up 34-24 at the 4:49 mark. From that point on their lead would stay at double digits.
Freeman tacked on a deuce, Weaver answered for the Tigers, Braelyn Wymer notched a three-point play, and back-to-back hoops from Green gave them a 43-26 advantage near the end of the frame.
A putback for Hollenbaugh and a basket on a cut to the hoop from Green kept the score at 45-28 after three, and a 17-point difference would not be made up by the Tigers in the fourth.
A lot of the credit goes to the Panthers’ defense according to Ripke, as from his standpoint it was making the Tigers “uncomfortable.”
“That’s what we want to do,” he said. “We want to make the other team uncomfortable. I really liked what we were doing. And credit Liberty Center, we usually get turnovers that lead to more points than that.”
The Panthers improve to 4-0 in the NWOAL with the win and have just one loss for the season, sitting at 15-1. But with still more left to prove, Ripke is hesitant to put this team above some of the others he’s coached.
“They are all special,” stated the coach. “And they are all special for different reasons. But, these girls are a very fun group to coach. And I love them to death.”
Delta will host Evergreen in NWOAL play Thursday and Lake in non-league action on Saturday.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010