Playing without two seniors, Delta boys basketball was clearly hamstrung Tuesday night, leading only twice the entire game in a 65-58 home loss to Hilltop.
The Panthers were without key contributor Bowen Green who was out with an illness, as well as Robby Arredondo who had a hand injury.
Hilltop led by as many as 11 in the second half, but Delta refused to go away. They cut it to four on multiple occasions, the last on a basket in the post by Seth Burres to make it 56-52 with 4:27 left in the game.
The Cadets then got a putback basket and two free throws from Austin Schaffner, bumping their lead back to eight. Following an Elliot Schneider deuce for the Panthers, Schaffner split a pair from the foul line, then Steve Riley went two for two to make it 63-54 with only 37 seconds to go.
A Schneider three-pointer gave Delta its last lead of the game, 6-4, at the 5:18 mark of the opening quarter. The Panthers were outscored 15-7 throughout the rest of the frame.
In the second quarter, the Panthers fought back to tie it at 25 on a basket inside from Gabe Freeman and Noah Tedrow’s putback.
However, Hilltop responded with a three-point play by Riley, consecutive hoops from Andrew Denton, and Schaffner’s putback which made it 34-25 with 2:47 left until halftime.
The Panthers then got a bucket in transition from Schneider and a triple from Brady Wymer, but Riley closed the half with a jumper to keep the margin at six going into the break.
Riley led all scorers with 26 points. He had a balanced night overall, notching 14 points in the first half and 12 in the second. Schaffner chipped in with 14 points and Denton 11 for the Cadets (3-14).
Wymer paced Delta with 17 points. Freeman added 15 and Schneider 13.
Delta (6-11) is also at home on Friday when they welcome Bryan for a Northwest Ohio Athletic League contest.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010