OTTAWA HILLS – Delta girls basketball coach Ryan Ripke said before his Saturday game with Ottawa Hills he was going to pressure the Green Bears all over the floor. And pressure the Panthers did, turning the Green Bears over 26 times, including 10 in a decisive third quarter that led to a 45-41 win.
“It (the press) bothered them at the most important times and that was later in the game,” explained Ripke. “They have the two 6’2” girls inside (Olivia VanSlooten and Ariel Cummings) and that creates a matchup problem for anybody and I think we are a big team. Their guards did a decent job against us early but I suspected they couldn’t keep up for four quarters.”
Early on Cummings was a dominant force near the glass as her three putbacks and another by Kelsi Berry helped Ottawa Hills to a 14-13 first quarter lead despite eight first quarter points from the Panthers’ Morgan Mattimore.
The Panthers press took a toll in the second, harassing the Green Bears into eight turnovers, but Delta shot just 3 for 12 from the floor and trailed 22-20 going into the locker room, mostly because of a 17-8 disparity on the boards.
“We just didn’t get to the boards in the first half like we should,” said Ripke.
Despite the disadvantage on the rebounding side, the Panthers pressure defense finally got some easy baskets in the third quarter thanks to a myriad of Green Bear turnovers.
Morgan Mattimore’s triple knotted the game at 23 with 6:12 left in the third that ignited a 15-4 Delta run.
Nadine Ayad’s jumper gave Ottawa Hills the last lead they would see on the day with 4:43 to go before the Panthers got on a roll from the press.
Hayley Callahan re-tied the game with a pair from the foul line, then Morgan Mattimore got consecutive steal and scores, and Jenni Davis scored on a fastbreak and with an offensive rebound to drive the Panther lead to 33-25.
Berry scored a transition layup to get Ottawa Hills within six but Davis nailed a jumper just inside the foul line to give the Panthers an eight point lead.
“We rotated nine girls and we tried to keep everyone fresh and out of foul trouble and we finally knocked down some shots when we needed them, and got on the boards when we needed them,” said Ripke.
Maddie Mattimore’s steal and score with 6:54 left in the game gave Delta their biggest lead at 40-31 before Ottawa Hills made a late run with Cummings again getting to the offensive boards for a score and a couple missed opportunities for Delta at the foul line.
Van Slooten’s basket on a rebound with 44 seconds left got Ottawa Hills within 43-41 before Morgan Mattimore got loose on the fly pattern for a game ending layup.
Morgan Mattimore’s game high of 21 left her 12 points shy of the 1,000 point mark for her career. Davis added 10 for the Panthers who host Anthony Wayne tonight before heading to Swanton for an NWOAL contest on Thursday.
Joe Blystone can be reached at email@example.com