It was a winner-take-all affair for the Northwest Ohio Athletic League girls basketball title Thursday at Delta, and the hometown Panthers left nothing to chance. Behind 27 points from junior guard Abby Freeman, they outscored Archbold 41-11 in the second and third quarters to pull away for a 65-40 victory.
The win gave the program its third league title and first since the 2014-15 season.
“When we won it in 2015, we didn’t beat Archbold. The next year, we beat Archbold and we didn’t win the league. So this year we get the best of both worlds,” said Delta coach Ryan Ripke. “And I can’t say enough about Archbold. We beat an extremely good team.”
For the Blue Streaks, they had just three made field goals by Kamryn Hostetler in a span which lasted over 13 minutes from the first half into the early second, all while the Delta offense caught fire.
“They (Delta) are the league champions. They deserved it,” said Archbold mentor Brian Ziegler. “And they went out and won a championship. We didn’t lose it, they went out and won it.”
The Streaks held the lead more than once in the opening quarter, the last after Andi Peterson’s midrange jumper made it 11-9 with 1:15 left in the frame. However, Delta’s Brooklyn Green knotted it up with a putback basket, then Alayna Mitchell’s drive and score with two ticks left put the Panthers up a deuce after one.
Freeman got the scoring started in the second period with a pair of free throws 30 seconds in, then after Hostetler answered with a drive to the hoop, Delta went on a 16-2 run to end the half.
First Braelyn Wymer got a basket inside, Green followed with a basket, Freeman drilled a pull-up jumper, Maddie Mattimore got into the act with a three-pointer, and Freeman hit a long deuce to make the score 26-13 with 2:50 to go.
Their run was not over as Braelyn Wymer hit from long range and Grace Sonick got open inside for a bucket, before finally Hostetler stopped the bleeding with a fast break bucket. This put the margin at 31-15 at the half.
“We lost shooters, where they were on the court, and they had open shots,” said Ziegler on the success of the Panther offense. “Good teams are gonna hit those open shots against you. They did a very good job moving the basketball and getting their three-point shooters open. We lacked the defensive discipline to know where they were at. Couldn’t get anything offensively going. We let their pressure affect how we played offense.”
The Panthers continued to pour it on in the third quarter, led by 17 points from Freeman. They outscored Archbold 33-6 in the stanza.
Freeman scored the first eight points of the period, then Green followed with a pair of hoops, bumping the Delta lead to 43-15 midway through the quarter.
“Abby is such a special girl,” said Ripke. “On the court, off the court. She’s top notch. Tonight she led us. She was special on the court tonight that’s for sure.
“She was on fire. I wasn’t quite sure if she was gonna miss tonight.”
She scored nine more points in the final four minutes of the third to help ice the game.
Outside of Freeman’s 27, Mattimore finished with 13 points and Green added 10. Hostetler paced Archbold with 16 points.
The triumph completes an undefeated league campaign for the Panthers where they finished 7-0. It was also their 20th win of the season.
“It is very special,” said Ripke, speaking about the season as a whole. “To be able to go through the league undefeated, it says a lot because this is a very good league. With very good players and very good coaches.”
The coach also credited the Panther faithful who were out in full force Thursday night.
“I just want to thank the community of Delta,” he said. “Because they came out and they supported us. They are a big reason why we won tonight.”
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010
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