Big game players make big plays in big games.
OK maybe a Christmas weekend non-league game isn’t EXACTLY a huge game.
However, on a night where loose balls were fought over like a steak by piranhas, and coaches made moves like a world title chess match, Delta’s floor general Abigail Freeman made every big play as her Panthers finally shook off scrappy Evergreen, 29-22, Friday to remain undefeated at 9-0.
“We tried to prepare them mentally and what (Evergreen) did to us last year in the league game,” said Panther coach Ryan Ripke of the Vikings’ spread strategy. “They stayed in the game and kept it close and we figured they would try it and the last couple days we’ve been trying to mentally prepare the girls for that and told them ‘hey we are going to have to grind it out.’”
After Freeman scored the first bucket of the game 40 seconds in, it was all Vikings the next three minutes as Evergreen opened up the floor and made the Panthers come chase them.
Abi Borojevich’s stop and go move put the Vikes up 3-2 at the 5:47 point of the first, then consecutive turnovers led to Savannah VanOstrand’s drive and Nicole Brand’s hoop off a fastbreak feed from VanOstrand to give Evergreen a 7-2 lead.
The Vikings forced six Delta first quarter mistakes, however, in the second it was Evergreen guilty of mishandling the ball, nine times in all that led to a Panther rally.
After Borojevich drained a triple from the left of the top of the key to give the Vikes a 10-5 lead, Freeman went to work.
The next three Panther possessions, the 5’6” senior converted three Evergreen miscues into a pair of jumpers from in close and a dump to Brooklyn Wymer for a score that put the Panthers on top 11-10.
“I don’t think we ever panicked,” Ripke stated. “We may have had that look of concern, but I don’t think we ever panicked to the point where we rushed shots because of the tempo and score.”
Borojevich and Jessie Giguere traded hoops and lead changes before Mady Peluso split a pair of free throws for theVikes with 2:08 to go in the half to tie the score 13-13.
Again Freeman struck, this time from long range with 1:45 to go in the half to give the Panthers a 16-13 lead at intermission.
Delta went up 19-13 before Borojevich spun and scored with 6:26 to go in the third.
After a Panther misfire and the Vikes down four, and with the first possession of the upcoming fourth quarter, they pulled the ball out all the way and waited….
After over three minutes ran off the clock, the Panthers came after them, forcing a turnover but then gave it right back, giving the Vikes the last shot of the frame.
An Evergreen miss led to a dash upcourt in which Giguere scored on the third try at the rim to give the Panthers a 21-15 lead heading into the fourth.
The Panthers made 4 of 6 free throws to open the quarter, including 3 of 4 from Freeman, but the Vikings didn’t go away.
Borojevich scored the next three and Peluso’s drive after a Brooklyn Green bucket closed the gap to 27-20 with 2:15 left.
However, three straight misses eventually put Freeman on the foul line with 22 seconds left and one more time it was Freeman, this time converting both ends of a one-and-one to put the game on ice.
Freeman and Borojevich led their teams with 15 and 12 respectively.
Neither team shot it well at all as the Panthers were 10 for 36 while Evergreen went 9 for 35.
“We hit just enough shots and then made big free throws at the end,” explained Ripke. “Abby Freeman even made the comment that good teams adjust on the fly and I think we adjusted on the fly. This was a really gutty win.
“This is a rivalry game and we call this our team up north (referring to Evergreen). We didn’t cross all the E’s out or anything but it’s a rivalry game and those girls up here have a lot of pride and coach (Brittaney) Cymbolin is going to require that her girls fight and they sure did that tonight. Like I said this was a really, really gutty win.”
Evergreen was guilty of 17 turnovers while Delta committed 14.
Hot-shooting Blackbirds clip Evergreen
The name of the game when playing basketball is putting the biscuit in the basket.
Jason Waldvogel’s Pettisville Blackbirds did just that, shooting 52 percent, including a smoking 75 percent in the fourth quarter, knocking off cold-shooting Evergreen 52-36 Saturday night.
“I think our shot selection tonight was better than it has been in past games,” Blackbird coach Jason Waldvogel said. “That translated into a better percentage. We got the ball inside and were able to get to the rim on the glass offensively also.”
Pettisville never trailed in the contest as Brandi Schnitkey scored seven first quarter points and Jessica McWatters drained a triple just before the end of the first eight minutes to give the Birds a 12-3 lead.
Schnitkey handed off to Morgan Leppelmeier in the second quarter and the 5’8” senior didn’t disappoint as she got into the key for a pair of pull up jumpers, went backdoor for another two buckets and just for good measure, drained a long three-ball to counter nine points from the Vikings’ Abi Borojevich to give Pettisville a 27-14 halftime lead.
Baskets by Schnitkey on a run-out, Leppelmeier off the offensive glass and Xavia Borden also on a second chance shot upped the lead to 33-19 with 3:05 left.
Kelsie Komisarek and Kennedi Keifer both hit from long range in the right corner to get Evergreen within 33-25 with 1:32 on the clock and after a Blackbird miss, the Vikings seemingly had another chance to cut into the Pettisville lead.
However, Leppelmeier scooped up the loose ball rebound for a putback and then forced a 17-footer that went through at the third quarter horn to get her team back up double figures, 39-28.
Again it was Leppelmeier dominating the glass with another second time hoop to begin the fourth for a 13-point lead before Evergreen made a last run.
Borojevich got inside for one score and after a Blackbird turnover, took a dish from Savannah VanOstrand to get the Vikes to less than 10, 41-32, with 6:47 left.
However, this time it was Schnitkey with a three-point play and a steal and score, putting Pettisville back in control at 46-32 with 6:06 remaining.
“At the end of the game we tried to use their pressure against them and get some back cuts and get some good looks,” explained Waldvogel. “We wanted to get the ball going to the rim and get good quality shots when we were trying to hold a lead.
“Again it was all about good shot selection.”
Leppelmeier led all scorers with 21 and Schnitkey added 18 as the Blackbirds were 23 of 45 from the floor.
Borojevich had 17 to lead Evergreen but the Vikings were just 13 for 41. Both teams had 17 turnovers.
Pettisville is now 7-2 on the season, while Evergreen falls to 2-5.
Reach Joe Blystone at firstname.lastname@example.org