Panthers battle back to flame out Comets

By Joe Blystone - For the Expositor

Everyone knows that most of the scoring for the Delta Panther girls this season is going to come from Abby Freeman and Maddie Mattimore.

However, it was the second half work on the glass of Mary Miller and Hayley Callahan along with the fourth quarter play of Emily Clifton that played the most prominent roles, as Delta rebounded from an eight point third quarter deficit to extinguish the Genoa Comets 53-49 Saturday at home.

“Credit our girls for feeding it into the post players,” explained Panther coach Ryan Ripke. “I just told Emily Clifton in the locker room if she doesn’t play the way she did in the fourth quarter, we don’t win. Talk about righting the ship, she righted the ship. And our post players just kept battling and battling down low. 19-8 rebounding edge for us in the second half? Wow!”

Early on it was Genoa who had their way underneath as Sasha Roberts scored on a pair of putbacks, helping the Comets to a 9-7 first quarter lead.

That lead ballooned to 18-10 in the second when Tatum Neumann hammered home a three with 3:10 left in the half.

But from that point the Panthers held Genoa scoreless for the rest of the half and went on a 10-0 run.

Mattimore and Freeman each scored on a drive, then Mattimore picked a Genoa player at halfcourt and scored before Freeman hit both ends of a one-and-the-bonus to tie the game.

Miller’s third try offensive rebound basket with four seconds left in the half put the Panthers on top going into the locker room.

Delta came out cold in the third and coupled with six third quarter turnovers, Genoa built a 32-24 lead as Chayce McQueary scored on a baseline jumper and three-ball, Emily Edwards drove for a basket and Kendall Gerke hit yet another triple. But from that point Delta asserted themselves inside.

Freeman scored off an offensive rebound, Callahan posted up strong for a hoop and Freeman drove for another basket to chop the Comet lead to 33-31 at the third quarter buzzer.

Mattimore’s scoop and score tied the contest 39 seconds into the fourth but a pair of Edwards drives and one by Neumann regained a 39-35 Comet lead with 5:11 to go.

From that point Miller and Callahan got out their bottles of Windex and began cleaning the glass as Genoa was one-and-out the next three and a half minutes.

Freeman hit a triple to get Delta within a point and Callahan’s rebound hoop put the Panthers ahead 40-39 at the 2:18 mark.

Mattimore’s steal and score with 1:56 left gave Delta a three point lead and she duplicated that act again seven seconds later to put the Panthers up five before a parade to the foul line ensued. Freeman and Mattimore hit 8 of 10 from the stripe to give Delta a 52-47 lead with 42 seconds left.

Controversy arose when McQueary hit what looked to be a triple from the right corner with 25 seconds left that would’ve put the Comets within two.

One official signaled a three but was eventually overruled after a lengthy delay to make the score 52-49 instead of 52-50 and when Callahan hit a free throw with 14 seconds left, Delta had a two-possession lead that turned into the final score.

For the game Delta was 18 for 53 from the floor while the Comets were 18 for 47.

Mattimore had 22 points to lead Delta. Freeman added 17.

Neumann had 13 to lead Genoa. Edwards had 11.

Delta is now 2-2 on the year and faces Wauseon Thursday night.

By Joe Blystone

For the Expositor

Reach Joe Blystone at [email protected]

Reach Joe Blystone at [email protected]