Two weeks from now, we will be watching Ralphie on “A Christmas Story” take aim with his Red Ryder BB gun, and proceed to ricochet a shot off target and right back at him catching him just below the eye.
For 14 straight minutes, Kelsey Gillen’s Delta Panthers must have felt like Ralphie, clanging shots off the iron, spinning them off the rim and basically being off-mark 25 consecutive times.
And then the Panthers began to knock down shots — same as how Ralphie picked off Black Bart and his gang — to come back from an 11-point deficit to score a 37-34 win over Pettisville Monday in non-league girls basketball. The win puts Delta at 2-4 on the season.
“The defense held them in,” Gillen said after. “Even with everything that went on, the intensity on defense brought them through.
“They continued to fight and battle, they got stops defensively otherwise it would’ve been really tough.”
Ellie Grieser’s two buckets, one off a stickback, an Alli King triple and Amanda Grimm’s tough-angle drive helped Pettisville take a 9-4 lead.
Khloe Weber’s right-corner triple with 2:22 left in the first got Delta within a deuce and unbeknowst to the Panthers, that would be their last field goal for nearly two quarters.
Hollyn Klopfenstein’s runner closed the first, then Grace Crawford’s bank shot, Klopfenstein’s cruise coast to coast, Grieser’s triple and Grimm’s fast break bucket pushed the Blackbirds up 20-9 at the half.
The Blackbirds really didn’t shoot it all that well in the second going 4-13, but it looked white hot compared to the Panthers 0-17.
Delta missed their first three of the third quarter, but that all changed with 5:26 to go.
With the Panthers chasing them all over the court, Pettisville began to unravel and Alani Haas scored on a putback to break the lengthy string of misfires.
Twenty seconds later, Weber’s steal and score waas the second bucket of a 9-0 run, mostly thanks to the Panthers forcing 10 third quarter turnovers.
Grace Munger bagged a triple and Haas scored on the break to bring the Panthers back to 20-18.
“The turnovers helped obviously on both ends,” Gillen explained of the run. “When we were able to pick it defensively and force some turnovers it built our momentum offensively.”
Crawford’s power drive off the high glass doubled the lead, but Munger’s third triple of the night got Delta within a single point at 22-21.
After Leah Beck and Crawford hit to extend the Blackbird lead to 26-23 at the quarter, Haas’ third bucket of the half and Olivia Smith’s free throw brought Delta even.
Grieser’s triple was answered by Sophia Burres’ three-point play to regain a tie with 5:35 to go.
Next time down it was Weber who put the Panthers up for good with a Euro step through the key.
Smith followed with a jumper from the right of the foul line 18 ticks later.
“Khloe’s move was a big one and then Olivia’s shot, she took it with a lot of confidence,” said Gillen. “She had been struggling a little bit and she took that one and stepped into it with a lot of confidence and knew it was going in.”
The Blackbirds hit 3-4 from the foul line to get back to a single point margin but Haas hit a driving bank to push the Panthers back up three.
Grieser scooped up her own miss and scored with 8.5 left on the clock but Burres calmly stepped up and canned both ends of a one-and-one for the final margin with 4.3 seconds left.
Grieser’s heave from halfcourt wasn’t really close at the buzzer.
For the game Delta went 12-54 on the night, but a more respectable 10-20 after their shooting woes of the first half plus.
Pettisville was only 14-45 and committed 24 turnovers.
Grieser led all scorers with 14 points while no Panther hit double figures.