Wauseon and Delta went back-and-forth Thursday night in their NWOAL girls basketball contest, but three straight Indian turnovers in the final 1:40 that resulted in points for the Panthers allowed them to get the win on their home floor, 52-49.
“Almost nothing surprised me tonight,” said Delta coach Ryan Ripke of his team’s thrilling victory. “I told the girls last night I said, ‘coach (Ashley) Oyer’s gonna have those girls ready. They didn’t back down to Archbold last week, they’re not gonna back down to us this week.’ I usually like being right, but I didn’t like being right tonight.
“My hats off to the girls on Wauseon’s team. Because they played very well, they played well enough to win this game. I am happy for our girls but with the season Wauseon’s having, I feel bad that they had to lose another close one like that.”
Wauseon clung to a 33-32 lead at the beginning of the fourth quarter as Morgan Mattimore split a pair of free throws at the 7:08 mark. Lexi Sauber added a bucket with an assist from Rylee Campbell for Wauseon, then Campbell tacked on two free throws which put the Indians on top by four.
Delta got a pair of free throws from Hayley Callahan but Wauseon’s Anna Marshall answered with a basket in the post, while Maddie Mattimore of Delta and Marshall each went one of two from the foul line to keep Wauseon up four, 39-35, with 5:15 left in the game.
Wauseon soon led by six as Sauber once again scored inside, however, the Panthers responded with a bucket by Maddie Mattimore and one of two at the line from Abby Freeman.
This see-saw of emotion continued until the pendulum finally swung in Delta’s favor with just under three to play.
With Wauseon up 45-40, Morgan Mattimore recorded a three-point play to pull the Panthers within a bucket at the 2:47 mark. Although Wauseon’s Karli Penrod nailed a pair of free throws to extend their lead and the Indians followed that up with a stop on the defensive end, Maddie Mattimore’s steal and score made it 47-45 with 1:40 to go.
They then got another swipe from Maddie Mattimore who onced again converted, and while she failed to tack on a free throw which could have given them the lead, momentum was on the side of the home team.
“A lot of times she finds herself in the right place at the right time. And then other times, she gets those steals on her own. Tonight, she did a little bit of both,” explained Ripke of Maddie Mattimore’s defensive effort.
“We know that they are gonna pressure us and we know they are gonna be all over us,” said Wauseon mentor Ashley Oyer. “We kind of just got a little tentative, and I don’t know that (we weren’t) tired a little bit maybe too. But, we can turn it over going to the basket but you can’t turn it over in the open court for them to get layups. And they got a couple key ones there to take back over the game.”
Following a charge called on the Indians, Delta’s Jessi Davis got free inside for a bucket and added a free throw to give her team a 50-47 edge with just 33 seconds to go.
“I can’t say enough also about the play of Jessi Davis,” stated Ripke. “She is another player, just like Jenni (Davis), who her confidence has just really soared these last few games because she’s playing a lot better.”
Jessi Davis then added two more at the line with 19 ticks remaining to close out the Indians. Penrod did add a basket as time expired for Wauseon.
Wauseon saw three different players score in the opening quarter as they led 10-6 after one. They pushed that margin to six with Penrod’s jumper to begin quarter number two, but a three by Maddie Mattimore and Morgan Mattimore’s four-point play put Delta ahead with 6:38 left until half.
One of two free throws for Sauber broke a tie at 16 in favor of Wauseon, but Morgan Mattimore’s steal and score reclaimed the lead for Delta at 18-17 with 3:41 left in the half.
However, Penrod scored on a jump-stop move, Sauber added a jumper, Morgan Mattimore hit two free throws, and Sauber scored inside as the Indians were back on top. Sauber then split a pair to extend her team’s lead to four, but Morgan Mattimore scored on a drive to the basket with one second left and the Wauseon advantage was 24-22 at the break.
Penrod scored three points while Marshall, Brianna Castellano and Kallie Strauss each had two as the Indians led 33-31 after three. Four different Panthers, including Morgan and Maddie Mattimore, scored for Delta in the frame.
Although Morgan Mattimore was limited to six second half points, both her and Maddie Mattimore were the game’s leading scorers at 18 and 16 points respectively.
“Morgan does a great job of penetrating and attacking the basket and then Maddie is waiting on the perimeter and she can shoot it,” said Oyer. Oyer then added that she was glad she is done with having to prepare for Morgan Mattimore as she is a senior.
Jessi Davis added 10 points for the Panthers. Wauseon was led by Penrod with 13, while both Sauber and Marshall each had 12.
The Indians returned home on Saturday where they fell to Springfield 49-36. Marshall had 10 points in the loss.
Wauseon is at Tinora on Tuesday before hosting Patrick Henry in NWOAL action on Thursday. Delta hosts Archbold on Thursday.
Max Householder can be reached at 419-335-2010