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Delta County hoop teams take a breath before 2016

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Photo by Wayne Crick The Cedaredge Bruins have been the class of the field in 2A District 5 so far this season. Ryan Hilbig's Bruins are currently 6-0 on the season and looking to add more wins to their resume when the 2016 portion of Cedaredge's schedule

Prep sports is taking a breather before resuming rigorous schedules beginning in early January.

Delta County athletes are taking time off but are scheduled to begin practicing for opening contests in the new year.

Locally, Cedaredge and Paonia High Schools' girls' basketball teams are once again setting the example for the rest of the 2A District 5 WSL, and making noise at the state level. Currently, the Bruins are third in Class 2A standings and Paonia is seventh. West Grand's Mustangs are sixth, giving 2A District 5 three teams in the top 10 standings in state.

Paonia's boys are listed 10th in the state while Meeker is sitting in second place. West Grand is in the 22nd spot in the boys' rankings.

Delta, competing in Class 4A WSL, is showing signs of having a good season in both boys' and girls' divisions. Delta's boys are 5-3 after completing the 2015 portion of their schedule. Delta's girls are .500 with a 4-4 record.

Class 2A Hoops

Cedaredge's girls sit atop the 2A District 5 standings of the Western Slope League. The Bruins are 6-0 and Paonia is third at 6-1. West Grand has a 7-0 record and occupies second place in league standings.

Much of the success of Cedaredge, and Paonia, is attributed to potent offenses fueled by turnovers produced in full-court pressure defenses.

The Bruins are scoring at a 55 points-per-game clip while the Eagles score nearly 58 points a game on average.

Rebounding is adequate for both teams, as shooting layups off steals often does not require great emphasis on rebounding. The Bruins snag an average of 36 boards per game while Paonia pulls down an average of 27.9 missed shots a game.

Both teams have high transition marks accounting for high percentages of their points. Paonia swipes an average of 21 balls each game and the Bruins nearly 17 to bolster already good offenses.

Junior Sophia Anderson leads the Eagles' offense with a scoring average just over 15 points. Ashley Van Vleet adds 10 points per game and Emily Pieper contributes six an outing.

The Bruins have three players who are double-digit scorers, led by senior Nellie Freeman's 14 counters a game. Junior Hannah Gilmore is scoring at a 10.6 clip and senior Kendall McHugh is good for 10 a game. Junior Hailey Henrie has contributed greatly to the offense this season and is currently scoring at an 8.7 per game pace.

On the boys' side, Paonia junior Colby Simpson paces the Eagles' offense with 13 points a game, with double-digit help from junior Dagan Rienks who is scoring at a 10-point average. Seniors Taylor Walters and Francisco Lopez have scoring averages of 8.7 and 9.2, respectively.

Paonia pulls down 31 rebounds a game with Rienks grabbing nearly seven carroms and Walters another six to lead the way.

Class 4A Hoops

Delta's Panthers are not listed in the top 20 of Class 4A state rankings, nor are they in the top three of 4A WSL standings.

With relatively young teams, both the boys' and girls' teams are working to overcome mistakes caused by inexperience.

Craig Cerise's new offense, and defense, have been different enough to create little obstacles that must be avoided to make success more accessible.

There are no double-digit scorers for Delta's girls. Emily Nortnik has had the team's biggest offensive game with a 23-point effort against Basalt on Dec. 12. Nortnik is scoring at an 8.1 clip and pulls down seven rebounds a game.

Junior Lily Lockhart knocked down 20 points in Delta's win over Battle Mountain just before break. She has four double-digit games and leads the Panthers in scoring with a 9.4 average.

Freshman Jenna Sutliff comes off the bench to spark the Panthers both offensively and defensively. Sutliff scores six points a game, has 12 assists and 16 steals in eight games so far this season. Sutliff is a scrapper and can be counted on for at least three rebounds a game for the Panthers.

Delta hauls in 34 rebounds a game and is led by Nortnik's 7-plus boards and Lockhart's 6.9. Megan Sandoval is another integral part of the boardwork as she grabs six rebounds a game. Senior Mykayla Music contributes another five rebounds a game.

Delta's boys are inconsistent in execution but play extremely hard. Coach Von Mitchell sees his squad getting better as the season progresses but notes, "We're playing young ... too many mistakes."

At 6-5, freshman Kyle Mock has shown spectacular shooting prowess at times and has plenty of moves to go with his shooting. As experience comes, Mock will be a big factor in how the Panthers finish the season.

Junior Beau Byers is electric at the point guard position and has an uncanny eye for where his teammates are on the court.

Another high impact player for Delta is sophomore Jaspar Carmichael. Carmichael is a capable guard who can play the point or wing positions and has tons of basketball savvy. Along with Byers, Carmichael has the ability to fill the net from beyond the arc, making them a dangerous force for opponents.

Newcomer Dylan Hollenbeck is a solid post presence who will provide needed benefits as the season continues.

The return of Jonny Ponce has given the Panthers added strength on both offense and defense.

Teams return to the hardwood Jan. 8-9.

Photo by Wayne Crick Senior Nellie Freeman doesn’t need much room to take a shot. Freeman sets up for a shot against Olathe in a game played in December.
Photo by Wayne Crick Cedaredge’s Kendall McHugh picks the pocket of an Olathe player during this year’s First Colorado National Bank Tournament. The Bruins have been stingy on defense and overpowering on offense and will begin 2016 with a 6-0 record.
Photo by Wayne Crick Delta sophomore Jaspar Carmichael shoots over Palisade’s defense in a game played earlier in December.
Photo by Wayne Crick Delta junior Lily Lockhart looks for a teammate to pass the ball to during a game against Palisade. Lockhart leads the Panthers in scoring in the early going and is good for seven rebounds a game.
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