Delta girls basketball jumped out to a 12-point lead over the first nearly eight and a half minutes of the opening half in a Northwest Ohio Athletic League girls basketball contest at home against Patrick Henry Friday. But after the Patriots managed to tie it up in the second quarter, the Panthers regrouped after halftime in a 63-43 win.
“We kind of challenged them at halftime. We said hey listen, ‘we’re gonna have to grind it out’,” said Delta coach Ryan Ripke after the game. “And I thought we did that. We went to a little bit more of our match-up zone (defense). And I thought we did a really nice job of communicating, and rotating, and getting hands up. We did some nice defensive rebounding, especially there in the third quarter. Just forced them into some tough shots.”
Delta led 15-6 after the opening frame thanks in large part to nine points from senior Abby Freeman. She would lead all scorers with 32 points.
Reagan Rouleau notched four points off the bench in the opening quarter and finished with eight total.
“She’s one of those girls that can play inside and out,” said Ripke of the sophomore. “You saw her penetrate the lane a couple of times. She hasn’t hit a three in a couple games, but she can knock down a three or two. When you’ve got our main scorers out there that do their thing, and then you bring a girl like Reagan off the bench, who can also shoot and who can also penetrate the basket, then all of the sudden that puts a lot more stress on the defense. She just gives us a lot of energy off the bench.”
They then pushed the margin to 12 with a three-pointer from Braelyn Wymer 26 seconds into the second stanza. But, PH refused to go away.
With the help of threes from Patrick Henry’s Audrey Sonnenberg and Natalie Nelson, the Patriots pulled within 22-16 at the 5:45 mark. MacKenzie Vance then converted a fastbreak opportunity for the Patriots, a Nelson hoop and Olivia Thompson’s drive and score knotted it at 22 with 3:10 until halftime.
“Hats off to Patrick Henry because, after we got up 15-6 after the first quarter, they could have just packed it in. And to their credit, they didn’t,” said Ripke on the Patriots’ second quarter run. “They knocked down some shots, they brought a lot of energy there in the second quarter. I didn’t think we quite matched that energy. You know, I don’t know if we expected them (Patrick Henry) to lay down for us, but they definitely didn’t.”
Freeman responded for the Panthers with consecutive hoops, then Vance split a pair from the line for PH. Delta’s Jessie Giguere hit 1 of 2 free throws while Freeman tacked on a pair, making the halftime margin 29-23.
The Panthers outscored the Patriots by five in the third period, 14-9, to lead by double digits entering the fourth. They then got a huge final frame from Freeman.
She tallied eight in the first four minutes, plus baskets by Brooklyn Wymer and Rouleau around a hoop from Sonnenberg to jump out to a 55-34 lead near the midway point.
“When you hit more outside shots, you’re offense is gonna look a lot better,” said Ripke of his team’s play in the second half. “They are gonna have to respect the shooters a lot more, which than will open up the penetration lanes and things like that.”
Sonnenberg finished with 10 points and Nelson had 10 for Patrick Henry.
Delta did suffer their first loss of the season Saturday at Stryker, falling by a final of 35-31. However, on the bright side, Freeman surpassed 1,000 points for her career.
Now 12-1 and 2-0 in the league, the Panthers host Liberty Center (3-9, 0-2 NWOAL) this Thursday and are at Lima Bath on Saturday.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010