High school sports have always been said to give lifelong lessons.
One of those lessons the Delta Panthers learned Saturday is that if you don’t come ready to play for coach Matt Brighton, then he will find someone that will.
That quick lesson plus the review discussion at halftime brought the Panthers back from a lethargic first half and a six point deficit to a 47-45 win over Montpelier to make the Panthers 2-1 on the season.
Seven first quarter offensive rebounds turned into putback hoops from Jamison Grime and Grant Girrell to give Montpelier an early 6-4 lead.
Bryar Knapp threw up a three-point shot that hit glass and went in with eight seconds left to give the Panthers a 7-6 advantage, but Garrett Walz got the ball up the floor and copied Knapp’s heave with one of his own to regain a 9-7 Loco lead.
That’s when four Delta starters found themselves on the bench starting the second quarter and neither team could find the hoop for nearly four minutes until Girrell hit a baseline jumper and an 11-7 Loco margin.
Brayden Brink’s triple gave Montpelier a 14-8 lead, but Bryce Gillen scored on a bucket and two free throws to make it 16-12, only to have Grime beat the Panthers downcourt at the buzzer to make it 18-12 at the half.
“That is something we have done in scrimmages but never in a game before,” Brighton said of his mass substitution to start the second. “We have a standard and I have juniors and seniors playing all the time and things that happened tonight shouldn’t happen, especially with kids who have been playing since their freshman and sophomore year. If the job isn’t getting done then we have confidence in those guys and they came in and they stepped up because we needed to get our starters in the right mindset.”
After Brighton’s firm tutorial at the half, Delta responded with a nine point salvo in the first 90 seonds of the second half spurred by three straight Loco turnovers.
James Ruple got the Panthers going with a three-point play 16 seconds into the third.
Then Ruple, Nolan Risner and Gillen each hit 2-2 at the stripe to give Delta a 21-20 lead.
After Walz’ spin move put the Locos ahead, Risner canned a right-side three, Justin Ruple had a steal and score, and Gillen capped an 8-0, 33-second blast with a long top-of-the-key triple off the glass giving Delta a 29-20 margin.
“We made the adjustments at half and you can tell the kids all you want but they have to go play and play the game they know how to,” Brighton explained. “We have to close a defensive stand with a rebound and in the first half we didn’t do that especially the first quarter. Third quarter we got those rebounds and forced some turnovers to get us going.”
Montpelier closed to 34-30 at the end of the third as Walz scored eight straight Loco points and Montpelier drew even at 37-37 with 5:03 to go on Trent Thorp’s steal and score.
Gillen gave the Panthers the lead back for good 16 seconds later with another top of the head triple and offset three Walz baskets down the stretch with two more of his own to keep Montpelier at bay.
“That’s what we look for Bryce to do,” Brighton said of his senior wing. “If he can read the defense and come off screens like he did and he gets the ball in those situations then we expect him to knock those down.”
Gillen had a game-high 22 points, 16 of those coming in the second half, and nine in the fourth quarter.
Walz had 21 for Montpelier.
After going 4-16 in the first half, Delta used 60% third quarter shooting to grab the lead.
Montpelier committed seven turnovers in the critical third.
Woodmore rolls past Delta, 59-24
The Panthers stayed close for just over a quarter in the girls game at Delta earlier in the day, but Woodmore used a big second quarter run to break the game open as the Wildcats went on to a 59-24 win.
Khloe Weber and Grace Munger hit first quarter jumpers to offset Kara Schneider’s two hoops inside to keep the Panthers within 11-6 after eight minutes.
Munger’s steal and score 37 seconds into the second stanza got the Panthers within one possession, but that was as close as Delta would get.
Macey Bauder scored six points, Cam Quisno canned a triple and Mackenzie Krukemyer scored on a third chance rebound to key a 13-0 burst and give Woodmore a 31-14 lead at the half.
Bauder’s triple and elbow jumper, along with a runout hoop from Jordan Beam, extended the margin to 41-14 halfway through the third.
Weber’s two jumpers and Olivia Smith’s stickback brought the Panthers back to 41-20 but Bauder scored the last seven of the quarter including a buzzer-beating triple to make it 48-20 going into the fourth.
Bauder got 24 points to lead all scorers, 17 of those in the middle two periods. Schneider hit 10 of her 12 in the first half.