Never trailing in the contest, Delta and its defense clamped down on Wauseon in the final five minutes, resulting in a 43-35 win in non-league girls basketball Thursday in Wauseon.
For the Indians it was their first loss, dropping them to 5-1 on the season. Delta improves to 4-1.
“We’re just taking it one game at a time,” said Panthers’ coach Ryan Ripke. “We came in here and we knew that Wauseon was undefeated. Their confidence is sky high. And we knew that they were gonna give us a test. I guess, I was just hoping we were gonna give them a test back.”
“(We had) way too many unforced turnovers. Especially in our transition,” said Wauseon coach Dan Seiler on his biggest takeaway from the game.
Delta extended their lead to 28-22 in the third quarter with a three-pointer from Brooklyn Green at the 2:17 mark, but from that point Wauseon slowly chipped away. The Panthers would lead by four, 30-26, at the start of the fourth.
Wauseon’s Marisa Seiler and Green traded hoops to start the period, then a Sydney Zirkle basket in the paint plus two Hayley Meyer free throws for the Indians knotted it at 32 with 4:40 remaining.
Aiding the Indians in their comeback effort was a switch to a full-court press in the second half.
“Only thing I regret is we didn’t go to it sooner,” said the Wauseon coach. “But hopefully we learn from this loss.”
The Panthers turned to two of their veteran players to help reclaim momentum, Green and fellow junior Brooklyn Wymer. Green scored on a hook shot, while Wymer’s bucket on a nice cut to the hoop gave them a four-point edge with 3:12 left.
Following a pair of missed free throws by Wauseon on 1-and-1 opportunities, Delta responded with a pair from Braelyn Wymer and a combined 2 of 4 from Keirsten Culler to go up 40-32 with just 1:24 to go.
The Indians could only muster one field goal in the final 5:14 – a fast break bucket from Kadence Carroll – and went just 3 for 6 from the foul line.
“I told these girls last night and I told them today, that I’m just seriously impressed with how well they play defense,” said Ripke. “And they love to play defense. That’s the amazing thing. There aren’t too many high school athletes that love to play defense.
“They just grinded it out. I’m sure you probably heard me yelling it to them. ‘Just grind it out’. We just toughened up. Wauseon made a run there in the first quarter on us; they made a run there in the third and fourth quarter on us. Our girls just kind of refused to give in.”
Delta freshman Khloe Weber, after also seeing minutes in the JV contest, scored all 13 of her points in the first half of the varsity matchup. She had seven in the first period as the Panthers led 14-6.
She then hit back-to-back triples in the second which kept her team up eight, 20-12, with 3:04 before halftime.
“She’s really been struggling with her shot lately,” said Ripke of Weber. “And every one she hit, I just thought holy cow that’s a present. That’s a gift. But she really did carry us in that first half. She’s still a freshman and she knows that. And she’s still making freshman’ mistakes. But, she’s getting better every game. And I think we got some more girls that are getting better every game.”
Wauseon got consecutive hoops from Chelsie Raabe and Seiler to trim the margin in half; however, a Braelyn Wymer jumper gave the Panthers a 22-16 lead heading into the locker room.
Both teams are back in action Tuesday. Delta hosts Fairview while Wauseon welcomes Ayersville.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010