Photo by Wayne Crick Delta senior guard Erin Zunich moves into position to make an entry pass to the wing. Delta stumbled in it’s first weekend of action and fell to Grand Junction, Fruita, and Montrose to begin the 2012-13 season at 0-3.After 25 practices before their opening game, Delta's Lady Panthers showed signs of game-rust in last week's Black Canyon Basketball Tournament in Montrose. Delta had a rough opening weekend of games as it played a pair of 5A schools (Grand Junction and Fruita Monument) and the tournament's host school Montrose.
In each game, the lack of play showed in a large number of turnovers and mental mistakes that cost the Lady Panthers dearly.
After Delta got off to a huge lead over Grand Junction on the first night of play, the Lady Tigers came back in the second half to score a 46-39 decision. The same kind of start against Fruita on the second day resulted in a 58-48 loss to the Lady Wildcats. Against Montrose on Saturday, it was a slow start and mental mistakes that allowed the Indians to score a 52-39 win that left Delta with an 0-3 record to start the season.
Delta head coach Matt Hamm was disappointed with the results from the past week's play of the Lady Panthers but knows the season is still too young to be overly judgmental. "We had rust that we had to get played off. Each game we played was a winnable game for us. Even though we were disappointed about the outcome of the weekend, we improved each game and are optimistic about the rest of the season."
GJ 46, Delta 39
The Lady Panthers began their season much the way they played at the end of last season. Great defense and an effective offense helped propel Delta to as much as a 12-point lead over a heavily touted Grand Junction squad that entered the tournament having played seven games already. And the Lady Tigers were unbeaten coming in. They left the same way.
Delta, behind the post-play of senior Callie Gafford and Skylyn Webb, kept Grand Junction at bay for most of the first half. Gafford was a solid force low as Delta's offense went through her and she responded with 10 first-quarter points in a 17-10 Delta run. Webb took some of the slack in the second quarter with seven points as the Lady Panthers held a seven-point lead at halftime (28-21).
Photo by Wayne Crick Skylyn Webb attempts an entry pass to Callie Gafford.Not much offense was generated by either team in the third quarter. The Tigers managed to cut two points off Delta's lead but only scored eight points in doing so.
The turning tide for this game came in the final period where Grand Junction outscored Delta 17-5. The Tigers gained their first lead of the game at the 3:00 mark.
Delta sent the Lady Tigers to the foul line for 18 shots in the fourth quarter with nine of the 17 points coming from the charity stripe. The Panthers were a dismal 1-7 during the same time span and just nine of 21 for the game.
Gafford's 17 points led the Panthers and all other scorers in the game. Webb finished with 12 points. Grand Junction's Sydni Brandon had 14 points while teammates Shafer Rubalcaba and Elisha Jahnke contributed 11 points each.
Fruita 58, Delta 48
A 15-7 start against Fruita reminded fans and coaches of the great beginnings in the first quarter of Thursday's game with Grand Junction. The demise of the Panthers and their momentum began in the second quarter. Delta failed to score a field goal for eight minutes of play and had to rely on free throws for its four points while the Wildcats funneled 19 points through the net.
Lauren La Bonde was responsible for Fruita's big push in the second period as she exploded off the bench for 11 points in the period. With the big run, Fruita took a 26-19 lead to its locker room at halftime.
Delta stayed with the Wildcats in the third period but failed to gain ground in a 13-12 Delta run. Sam Parks hit a pair of treys for Fruita to provide scoring punch to keep the Wildcats poised offensively.
Gafford and Shelby Curtis had six points each in the fourth quarter helping the Lady Panthers score 16 points. Unfortunately, Fruita got eight points from sophomore Kassidy Fair and another seven from La Bonde as the Wildcats scored 20 points to make the final score 58-48.
La Bonde was the game's leading scorer with 20 points with Fair and Parks finishing with 12 and 10 respectively for the winners. Webb and Gafford topped Delta shooters with 15 points each while Curtis posted 10 counters.
Gafford was Delta's leading rebounder with 11 snags while Curtis grabbed 10 carroms and Webb another nine.
Montrose 52, Delta 39
Delta, for the first time in last weekend's tournament play, was unable to jump out to an early lead. The Lady Indians had answers to all of Delta's offensive schemes and used turnovers to run to a 13-6 first-quarter lead.
The Lady Panthers got going in the second quarter with Webb leading the way with eight points. Brooke Taylor got the Panthers fired up with a three early in the quarter.
After halftime, Delta used Webb's 10 points on a variety of shots to stay close. Montrose's Maison Bovard hit five of six freethrows as the Indians kept the momentum with a 13-12 advantage in the period.
The Lady Indians had too much for Delta in the final stanza and outscored the Panthers 12-6 to take a 52-39 decision.
Webb's 22 points led all shooters in the game. Montrose did not have anyone with more than seven points.
Delta will host Eagle Valley (2-0 and 5-2) on Thursday. Play between the two schools begins with junior varsity girls action at 3 p.m. Delta's junior varsity boys follow at 4:30 p.m. and the Lady Panthers tip off at 6 p.m. Delta's boys' varsity is scheduled to play at approximately 7:30 p.m.
Delta will participate in the 18th annual Delta County basketball tournament (previously called the Bank of the West Basketball Tournament and now called the First Colorado National Bank Basketball Tournament.)
The Lady Panthers will face Cedaredge at 6 p.m. on Friday (Dec. 21). A win Friday sends Delta to the championship game on Saturday at 6 p.m. A loss will find the Lady Panthers playing for consolation honors on Saturday at 3 p.m. against either Hotchkiss or Paonia.
Delta's varsity boys are slated to take on Cedaredge at 7:30 p.m. on Friday. The winner plays Saturday at 7:30 p.m. for the tournament title while losers play at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday.