Despite losing a league scoring champion, Delta looks well positioned to defend their Northwest Ohio Athletic League title this year.
Gone is Maddie Mattimore, a two-time scoring champion, and second team All-Ohioan. But, the Panthers, who were 23-2 last season, return three starters and six letter winners overall.
Abby Freeman leads the way. The senior guard averaged 12.9 points and 3.2 rebounds per game last season and was named to the first team in the NWOAL and District, while also earning third team AP All-District honors. Freeman could also hit the 1,000 career points mark this season.
Seniors Alayna Mitchell (1.7 ppg, 3.3 rpg) and Jessie Giguere (3 ppg, 3.4 rpg) also return to the starting lineup this season. Mitchell was honorable mention all league in 2017-18.
A trio of talented sophomores round out the returning letter winners. Brooklyn Green averaged 7.4 points and 3 rebounds per game and was honorable mention all-league. Braelyn Wymer was also honorable mention all-league after scoring 5.4 points and grabbing 2.3 rebounds per game. Brooklyn Wymer averaged 4.9 points and 2.7 rebounds per game as a freshman.
Leadership, speed and team chemistry should be strengths for Delta.
“We have six of our top eight back from last year, including senior leaders Abby Freeman, Alayna Mitchell and Jessie Giguere,” said Delta coach Ryan Ripke. “We should be pretty balanced in the scoring column.”
Ripke said that his team loves playing defense and coupled with good team speed, that should allow them to put a lot of pressure on the opponent at both ends.
“We also seem to have really good team chemistry and great leadership. Our girls know their roles and take pride in doing what is needed for the team to be successful,” said the coach.
Promising newcomers include sophomores Reagan Rouleau and Ella Ford.
“I think this team has the potential to be very good. As a team, we have high expectations for this season,” said Ripke. “But we have to understand that last year is in the past and we can’t try to match what we did last year. As the cliche goes, if we focus on getting better every day and one game at a time, we should be in good shape this year.”
Despite the high expectations, youth could still be a weakness at times, according to the coach, who is in his ninth year at Delta.
“We are still a pretty young team as four of our top players are sophomores. Brooklyn Green, Braelyn Wymer and Brooklyn Wymer all came off the bench as major contributors last year while Reagan Rouleau and Ella Ford should provide us with some much needed depth after having a really good summer,” Ripke said. “We are going to rely on these girls to play with a maturity more like juniors than sophomores.”
“I think the league this year is tough to predict because every team in the league lost key players but I also think we are all bringing back players that are capable of stepping into bigger roles than they had last year,” Ripke said.
He sees Archbold, Bryan, Evergreen and Delta being the top half of the league because they all bring back top players and key role players. “But, the other teams have good players and good coaching that can carry them to a victory on any given night.”
Reach Drew Stambaugh at 419-335-2010