Although trailing most of the game, a 20-12 fourth quarter run by Fayette that was charged by key three-pointers from Hannah Machacek and Taylor Griffiths, allowed the Eagles to overtake Delta on the road in girls basketball Tuesday, 69-56.
The win was Fayette’s fourth in a row as they currently sit at 13-1 on the year.
“The girls did some really nice things (in) that second half,” said Eagle mentor Scoop Miller after the game. “We seemed to have no answer for Delta’s offense that first half. But I thought our kids really did some good things that second half. And made them work a lot harder for their points.”
A steal and score by Delta’s Morgan Mattimore with just seconds remaining in the third period put the Panthers ahead 44-39 after three, however, the fourth quarter belonged to the Eagles.
Machacek cut into that lead with a three-pointer 28 seconds into the final stanza. Then, after a three-point play by Jenni Davis of Delta, another three from Machacek and Kaela Seiler’s bucket on a drive to the goal knotted the score at 47.
“That was a rough fourth quarter, but we were in catch up mode,” said Delta coach Ryan Ripke. “We went in with a five point lead, but, that evaporated real quick.”
A bucket by Alexis Fruchey inside lifted the Eagles in front, then Griffiths added to it with a triple. Morgan Mattimore scored inside for the Panthers, and another deuce for Fruchey gave Fayette a five-point edge at the 3:12 mark.
“We gambled by playing behind her,” explained Ripke of his team’s strategy against Fruchey. “It worked for three quarters, and they finally started dumping down the ball to her and we had to make an adjustment. We just didn’t make an adjustment quick enough.”
A pair of free throws for Morgan Mattimore got Delta within 54-51, but the Panthers missed out on a chance to cut into the lead even further when they came up short on the front end of a 1-and-1 their next time down the floor. Fayette made them pay when Fruchey, who also missed a front-end, got her own rebound for a putback basket.
Seiler then cashed in four straight free throws for the Eagles, putting them up 60-51 with only 1:38 to play. Fayette would also knock down eight of eight at the line in the final minute to seal the deal.
“We hit some big threes to cut into that lead and kept it just close enough where, fortunately, we made a run in the second half and we were able to get a lead,” said Miller. “Once we got the lead, the kids did a nice job of putting it away at the foul line.”
Fayette made one key adjustment defensively in the second half and that was switching from a zone to man-to-man. According to Ripke, it caused problems for the Panther attack.
“Our ball movement wasn’t as good in the second half. In the second half we just didn’t get those looks because they went man,” he said.
Delta, paced by a combined 12 first-quarter points from Morgan Mattimore and her younger sister Maddie Mattimore, let Fayette come back in the latter stages as Seiler’s jumper with 20 seconds to go made it 18-13 Delta after one.
Three-point baskets by Griffiths (twice) and Seiler around a score from Delta’s Hayley Callahan allowed the Eagles to take over the lead at 22-20 with 5:49 left until half. Jenni Davis recorded a three-point play to put Delta back up one, then a three for Machacek gave the Eagles the advantage.
Delta’s Abby Freeman would rattle in a three of her own, followed by Maddie Mattimore’s bucket on a drive and a score for Morgan Mattimore that kept Delta ahead at 30-25 with 2:26 to go. Their lead was then pushed to eight after Jessi Davis buried a triple 31 seconds later.
Fayette got a break when Griffiths was hacked while shooting from long range with 1:39 left, as she drilled all three attempts but Jessi Davis answered with two of her own and the Panthers led 35-28 at the break.
In the third, Maddie Mattimore answered Rylee Ruger’s basket inside for Fayette with a triple to extend the Panther advantage to eight. However, a layup by Fruchey, Seiler’s three, and two free throws for Griffiths around a Jessi Davis bucket put the margin at 40-37 with 4:03 remaining in the period.
They then cut it to one after Griffiths’ score in the post, but Morgan Mattimore answered with four straight points to give Delta a five point lead through three.
“We have a lot of respect for them,” commented Miller of the Panthers. “They’ve got a deep lineup. They’ve got good kids at every position. So certainly a quality win. No doubt.”
Fayette had four players in double figures as Griffiths led the way with 20. Seiler had 19, Fruchey 14 and Machacek chipped in with 12. Morgan Mattimore paced Delta with 19 while Jenni Davis and Maddie Mattimore each finished with 11.
Delta returns to NWOAL action on Thursday when they play host to Wauseon. Fayette travels to Stryker in BBC play Thursday before hosting Montpelier on Saturday.
Max Householder can be reached at 419-335-2010