Photo by Wayne Crick Delta junior Ryan Whiteside (10) enters a pass to a waiting Douglas Hawkins during last weekend’s game against Legacy. The Lightning had too much offense for Delta as they rolled to an easy win. Delta failed to win a game in three tries at the Warrior Challenge, but coach Von Mitchell was optimistic after the game. “We’re just five days old and three of those days were on the court. We’ll get better!”For Delta High School head boys' basketball coach Von Mitchell, this could be a good year for the Panthers. Delta will have height, speed and savvy.
Lacking on this year's squad is a pure perimeter shooter who can score double digits each game.
There are a few hopefuls for that designation, with senior Chris Black among those who might qualify. Black is a key component for the success of Delta's season who has the responsibility of transitioning the ball from backcourt to the frontcourt as a point guard.
Black is the only returning starter for the Panthers from a year ago when Delta went 17-6 with a league title and a run at the state title that ended in the round of 32 with a loss to Greeley Central. He is an all-conference point guard and, "is one of the best guards in the state," notes Mitchell.
Other players Mitchell will rely on heavily this season include Doug Hawkins and Mitch Whiteside, who as juniors were key players off the bench last season.
The remaining members of the varsity roster include senior letter winner Jaden Cowley, junior letter winners Keaton Reiher and Jorge Olivas, and sophomore letter winner Eian Baier.
Robin Milabo (senior), Kenny Wood (junior), Ryan Whiteside (junior) and sophomore Cade Gafford will complete the varsity roster listings.
Mitchell will have a capable staff made up of veteran coaches. Lane Varner, a Delta High School graduate and stellar athlete, will be in his second season as a JV coach and fourth overall, and Rob Ames is going for his 20th season as the Panthers' freshman coach.
For Mitchell, the 4A WSL has numerous tough teams, with all being teams to beat any given night. "League play should be tough again. I see Palisade being good for several years to come. I think Steamboat Springs will be good this year. Eagle Valley will be good again, and we're adding Summit County to our schedule."
Each team has impact players and the Panthers could have several as the season goes on. "We'll take all the impact players we can get, but Chris Black is certainly one of those for us. We're glad he's healthy and raring to go for his senior year," says Mitchell.
The outlook for the coming season is high for Mitchell and the Panthers. He never stops looking on the positive side. "Hopefully, our team will come together and work as one unit. If we do, we could have a great year. Time will tell on that one."