Delta girls basketball has its two best players returning, as well as a host of new talent to help them compete on the court this season.
They posted a winning record of 14-11 in 2016-17, but they hope that mark can improve this season.
“We bring back two of the best guards in the area,” said head coach Ryan Ripke. “Maddie Mattimore and Abby Freeman were a very solid 1-2 punch for us last year. Once again, we are going to rely on them to lead us on the floor on both ends of the court. I think we have the potential to be a very deep group. Potentially, we could have 10 girls who can contribute, so finding time for all those girls could be a challenge. We also have a lot of team speed which, together with our depth, should allow us to put a lot of pressure on the opponent. We also seem to have really good team chemistry, which obviously is huge for any team.”
Mattimore was the Northwest Ohio Athletic League scoring champ a season ago with 113 points in league play. She was also honorable mention All-Ohio in Division III, first team all-league and District 7, and second team all-district.
Mattimore averaged 16.9 points per game and 3.1 rebounds per game during her junior season.
Freeman was second team all-league and second team District 7 last season, averaging 14 ppg and 2.7 rpg.
Other returning letter winners for the Panthers are Grace Sonick and Sara Sintobin. They add newcomers Alayna Mitchell, Cassandra Lee, Jessie Giguere, Brooklyn Green, Brooklyn Wymer and Braelyn Wymer.
“I think this team has the potential to be very good. As a team, we have high expectations for this season,” explained Ripke. “As I said before, we have two of the best guards in the area coming back. But, we also have five girls coming up from a JV team that won 17 games last year, including Grace Sonick and Sara Sintobin who earned themselves some valuable varsity playing time at the end of last season. Alayna Mitchell, Cassandra Lee and Jessie Giguere were also big contributors on that JV team. Brooklyn Green, Brooklyn Wymer and Braelyn Wymer are three freshmen who we believe can play major minutes for us. Once again, we are hoping a challenging non-league schedule will prepare us for the league and post-season.”
The Panthers will have to replace departed letter winners Hayley Callahan (honorable mention All-NWOAL), Mary Miller, Emily Clifton and Erin Mazurowski.
“We lost 4 out of our top 6 including 3 starters, so we are going to possibly have 6 girls who will be contributing major minutes playing their first varsity basketball,” said Ripke on weaknesses for his squad. “We are also not very big. Rebounding and post defense is going to be a challenge for us.”
Ripke sees Swanton as the preseason favorite to win the league. After that he has Bryan finishing second, his Panthers third, Archbold fourth, Evergreen fifth, Liberty Center sixth, Patrick Henry seventh and Wauseon eighth.
“There is a lot of returning talent up and down the rosters in the NWOAL,” he said. “Whoever wins the league this year is definitely going to earn it as you are going to have to be ready to go every night. I wouldn’t be surprised if the league champ(s) has 1-2 losses. I say that every year, but I believe it every year.”
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010