Photo by Wayne Crick Delta seniors Callie Gafford (40) and Patti Chapman (23) challenge the shot of Eagle Valley’s Madeline Lounsberry in opening round play of the 4A district basketball tournament. Delta won the game 52-27 and eventually finished second to Montrose.What a run for the Lady Panthers of Delta ... eighteen straight wins dating back to December of 2012. After winning two District 4A playoff games this past week, Delta found itself in a battle it would not win.
The Lady Panthers opened the 2013 district playoffs with an easy win over Eagle Valley, 52-37. Next for Delta was a pesky, and good, Rifle team. The Lady Bears, who were beaten twice in regular season play by Delta, wanted to exact some revenge in Friday's semifinal round. An early lead eventually gave way to a fired-up Delta team in the second half as the Lady Panthers survived with a 32-26 decision.
Delta, the 4A WSL champion (14-0, 18-4), came into the tournament as the number two seed behind Montrose's Lady Indians (8-2 SWL, 18-4). The two teams met for the district title with Montrose securing the number one seed with a big 67-41 win. The Lady Indians were clearly the better shooters from the outside as 10 three-point goals found their mark in the first half alone with another four coming in the second half.
Delta 52, EV 27
A 10-4 first quarter gave the Lady Panthers a good, but not great, start. Eagle Valley wasn't ready to concede the victory to Delta, though, and brought some offense to the second period. Jesse Chambers scored six points in the quarter and Taylor Martin had four as the Lady Devils outscored Delta 12-10 to trail 22-17 at the half.
Delta's Skylyn Webb was drawing a heap of attention from the Lady Devils and had not scored in the first two quarters of the game.
Delta's defense began doing what it does best to start the second half. Eagle Valley was limited to just four points in the frame while the Panthers netted 15 counters. Shelby Curtis took over the scoring leadership and tossed in seven of her game-high 15 points in the period.
Five players contributed to Delta's fourth-quarter offense which outscored the Lady Devils 15-6 to make the final score 52-27.
Callie Gafford gave Delta a second offensive player in double figures with her 11 points while Erin Zunich had eight and Webb six. Patti Chapman and Brooke Taylor finished with five apiece.
Eagle Valley's Martin led the team with 10 points.
Gafford had a good day on the boards with 10 rebounds and Chapman was close behind with her nine boards.
Zunich and Webb led Delta's defense in steals with four and three respectively.
Zunich also led the Lady Panthers with four assists while Webb dished out three.
Delta 32, Rifle 26
Another slow start for Delta produced a tense moment for the Lady Panthers. Neither team was able to generate a real threat but Rifle did take a 6-4 lead to the second stanza.
The Lady Bears continued to stymie Delta's offense and pushed their lead to 17-9 at halftime.
Delta's halftime talk consisted of getting back to basics and getting the ball to top scorers Gafford and Webb. The conversation worked as Gafford scored 11 of her game-high 14 points in the second half (five in the third and another six in the fourth).
The Lady Panthers outscored Rifle 11-5 in the third to trail 22-20 heading into the final quarter. A 12-4 run sealed the 32-26 win.
Webb finished the game with 11 and Shelby Curtis and Patti Chapman had four points each. Chante Church was Rifle's top scorer with 10 and Joey Kuheim had eight.
Gafford pulled down another 10 rebounds for Delta with Curtis and Taylor snagging eight and six respectively. Gafford also had four blocks in the game.
In the steals department, Webb had four and Chapman and Gafford were next high with three each.
Curtis dished out five assists to lead the Lady Panthers in that category.
MHS 67, Delta 41
To say the Montrose girls' basketball team was hot was an understatement of monumental proportions. Even though the two teams played evenly, score-wise, the first eight minutes spoke well for both offenses. Montrose, based on treys from Kala Keltz and Hollie Brooks, had the Brownson Arena crowd in awe of the long-distance shooting prowess of the Lady Indians. Keltz hit four three-pointers and Brooks two in a 20-14 Montrose run in the first quarter.
Stephanie Rowan collected two shots from beyond the arc and Brooks and Keltz one each in the second quarter that helped Montrose to a 21-5 run.
Montrose was not as torrid from the arc to begin the second half, though they did hit two bombs in the third and two more in the fourth.
Delta played well in the third quarter and at one time had the Lady Indians' big lead shaved to 15 points. Montrose hit a three to stop the rally Delta was having and the two sides traded baskets for most of the remainder of the game.
Montrose outscored Delta 26-22 in the second half to make the final score 67-41.
Delta coach Matt Hamm tried different defenses during the course of the game, but nothing seemed to stem the tide.
For the first time in several games, Webb was Delta's leading scorer with 13 points while Gafford chipped in nine and Zunich six.
Keltz's eight threes were her game-high contributions of 24 points. Brooks, with four three-pointers, had 14 points and Tess Skoe finished with 13.
Gafford was again the top rebounder for Delta with nine caroms while Chapman grabbed six and Webb five. Gafford also recorded three blocks in the contest.
Webb and Chapman led Delta with four and three steals respectively with Webb posting three assists.
Delta will be seeded fourth in the upper bracket of the Tracy Hill Regional in Pueblo, and will play either Longmont (5 seed, 14-9) or Vista Peak (12 seed, 3-20) on Friday, March 1, at 5:30 p.m. Should the Lady Panthers win that contest, they would face Pueblo West (1 seed, 22-1 or the winner of the Golden (8 seed, 12-11) and Roosevelt (9 seed, 11-12) game on Saturday in the Sweet 16 on March 3. That winner would advance to Great 8 play on March 9.