The Delta girls' basketball program has a new head coach and will be striving to make a successful transition to Craig Cerise's new offense and defense as the season progressses.
Cerise, a former head coach for the Lady Panthers for two seasons, will be in his third season at the helm for the program. Overall, Cerise has nine years experience.
Assistant coaches include Jessica Varner, Kyle Crowder and Wayne Crick.
Varner is making her high school coaching debut but has had some experience at the middle school level. Varner will guide Delta's junior varsity team in 2015-16. Crowder comes to Delta from Hotchkiss where he held the head boys' coaching position for the past several seasons. Crowder is the freshman coach at Delta High School.
Crick returns to continue working with the Panthers on a volunteer basis.
Delta did not make the post-season last year, as Palisade defeated them in district playoffs, and finished with a 10-11 record.
This year's player list includes two seniors, nine juniors, six sophomores and 10 freshmen.
Coach Cerise notes there are several players who will be instrumental in Delta's success this season. Senior Mykayla Music will provide length with some outside shooting for the Panthers. She is tireless and gets up and down the floor quickly.
A wealth of juniors make up the core of this year's team. Perimeter players include Joyclie Webb at point guard and a shooting guard and Emily Nortnik who can play all five positions on the floor and is tenacious on both offense and defense.
Manning the post positions for Delta are Lily Lockhart and Megan Sandoval. Both are strong players who can rebound at either end of the court.
Throw freshman guard Jenna Sutliff into the mix and the Panthers have the makings for a solid team once the bugs have been worked out in Cerise's new offense and defense.
Cerise is hoping his team will gain needed experience in time to make some noise in the 4A WSL. "We hope to be competitive and challenge the top teams in our league. The players are picking up the new systems well, and we have some athletic girls that work well with each other."
The 4A WSL will be a challenge for Delta and its inexperienced squad. There is plenty of potential that will eventually lead to success in a big way.
As far as teams to beat in the 4A WSL, "probably all of them, but Palisade is one team that finished high last year, and they have a lot of players back. Glenwood is another team that seems to always compete for first place every year in our league," noted Cerise.
The Panthers opened their season last week and went 1-2 in the annual First Colorado National Bank Tournament.