Delta boys' head basketball coach Von Mitchell knows this could be a rewarding season for basketball at Delta High School. With just two seniors, Easton Metcalf and Jonny Ponce, listed on this year's varsity roster, the Panthers will be building a more experienced team that potentially has the ability to finish high in the 4A WSL.
Mitchell, in his 16th season, will be assisted by former girls' head coach Matt Hamm, in his 13th season as a basketball coach, and Rob Ames who enters his 23rd season as the wizard of freshmen coaches. Blake Velasquez also joins the staff at his alma mater for his first year.
Delta finished last year's season with an 8-12 record and did not make the playoffs.
There are 36 players who committed to basketball, with 13 of them slowed down by the recent football playoffs.
Delta has a talented and skillful freshman squad that is 18 strong. Kyle Mock has already made his mark and is currently a starter on the varsity team. There are several more who are capable of playing at multiple levels within the program.
This year's sophomore class contributes three to the varsity squad, led by Jaspar Carmichael. Dylan Hollenbeck and Logan Freed are also expected to see valuable time on the floor for the Panthers.
From the junior class expect big results from Beau Byers, one of only two returning lettermen. Blake Reiher and Nathan Sanders are also valuable contributors, as is Tre Johnson.
Players whom Mitchell believes can impact his team the most are his two returning lettermen, Byers and Carmichael. "Beau and Jaspar are fantastic leaders and savvy players. Beau led us in assists last year, and Jaspar shot around 84 percent from the free-throw line as a ninth grader. They are helping us spread the message of hard work and team play to our very young team."
There are three teams Mitchell believes to be the most competitive in the 4A WSL. "Palisade should have a good team with a lot of talent. Rifle's going to be tough. They will be tough as long as Roger Walters coaches them. Glenwood has the returning player of the year, so they are going to be good as well."
Delta began its season with a 3-0 record in last week's First Colorado National Bank tourney.