Delta High School's basketball teams are struggling to find ways to win in the early stages of their hoops campaigns.
The girls are in a total rebuilding year with a new coach and his new offense and defensive schemes. That, and the fact there are only two seniors on the roster, make this year's team susceptible to mistakes, both physical and mental. Delta's girls are currently 0-1 in league play and 2-3 overall.
Delta's boys started the season with three straight wins but have suffered losses in their last two outings.
Palisade 51, Delta 12
Delta's opening league contest against a potent Palisade Bulldogs' team wasn't everything Delta coaches had in mind. Even though head coach Craig Cerise knew coming into the game Palisade was an odds on favorite to win this year's 4A WSL title, he envisioned a more diciplined Panthers team to be more poised than they were in a 51-12 loss in Palisade last Friday night.
The team's quickness, and hot shooting performances from Christa and Ashlyn Brown, overpowered Delta, 18-4, in the opening quarter. Christa Brown dumped in seven points and Ashlyn another six to lead the offensive thrust. Emily Nortnik scored the four points for Delta in the quarter.
Even though the tempo was slower in the second period, Palisade kept an upper hand with a 14-7 run and a lead of 32-11 at halftime.
Numerous miscues by the Panthers, and a solid offense by Palisade, resulted in a 15-0 third quarter for the Bulldogs. Delta's offense consisted of just four free throw attempts in the period.
Delta was limited to four free throws in the fourth period, with Missa Webb hitting one of four to account for Delta's fourth-quarter offense.
Palisade wasn't much better with a field goal and two free throws totaling four points for a final score of 51-12.
Christa Brown finished the game with 20 points for Palisade and Aspen Guray had 11.
Palisade 61, Delta 48
First-quarter action between the Bulldogs and Panthers generated an 11-11 tie at the end of eight minutes of play. Beau Byers and Kyle Mock hit long range 3-pointers for Delta while Tanner Hall and Ian Schierlano matched that feat with 3-pointers of their own for Palisade.
The Bulldogs gained a slight advantage with an 18-12 run in the second period on the strength of Schierlano's six points and another five from Hall. Jonny Ponce had four free throws and Blake Reiher had a field goal and a pair of charity tosses to pace Delta's offense. The Bulldogs held a 29-23 lead at halftime.
Following the break, Palisade's Schierlano netted 10 points that triggered a 17-point effort by the Bulldogs in the third quarter. Mock and Jaspar Carmichael scored five points each for the Panthers as Delta matched the 17-point effort during the same time span.
Palisade, using the foul problems of Delta to its advantage, outplayed the Panthers, 15-8, down the stretch to win going away, 61-48.
Schierlano's 19 points paced all scorers in the game with Carmichael's 15 topping the Panthers' point output. Mock finished with 11 for Delta.
Delta 61, Basalt 47
The Panthers came back strong on Saturday afternoon following a loss to Palisade on Friday. Delta used a strong, 18-8, start in the first period to claim a 61-47 victory in Basalt.
Freshman Jenna Sutliff and junior Lily Lockhart scored six points each in the first quarter, helping the Panthers build their 10-point lead in the first quarter.
In the second quarter Delta had balanced scoring from its lineup, with seven of the nine players on the roster scoring at least two points. Basalt scored 12 points in the frame but still trailed, 36-20, going to intermission.
Third-quarter play was played evenly between the two teams as each squad scored 15 points. The big difference in the game for Delta was the increase in point-production by Nortnik in the period. Nortnik's 11-point effort helped the Panthers maintain their 16-point lead going to the fourth quarter.
Delta was 6-for-6 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter and Nortnik added two more goals to the Panthers' 10-point final quarter.
Nortnik was stellar in Delta's win as she rebounded well at both ends of the court and poured in a game-high, and career-high, 23 points for the Panthers. Sutliff and Lockhart contributed 10 points each in the win.
Nicole Alvarado was Basalt's top shooter with 10 points.
Basalt 53, Delta 26
An off-night offensively hindered Delta's progress against the Longhorns.
Basalt fed the ball to big man Michael Glen for seven first-quarter points as the Longhorns took a 12-9 lead heading to the second period. Ponce's five points paced the Panthers in the opening frame.
Neither team was overly productive on their offensive ends of the court in the second quarter. Basalt kept an upper hand with a 13-6 run on the strength of Glen's eight points. Carmichael had five of Delta's six points.
Delta's inability to find the hoop continued in second-half play. The Panthers' offense contributed just six points, while Basalt doubled that amount with 12 counters of its own.
The Panthers lost Mock in the fourth quarter and could not get inside consistently on offense. Basalt took advantage of the Panthers' defensive loss and outscored Delta 16-5 in the final quarter for the 53-26 victory.
The two teams meet again, in Delta, Feb. 8, 2016.
In Saturday's game, Glen was the game's leading scorer with 18 points, and teammate Wade Soho finished with 12. Delta's leading scorer was Carmichael with nine points.
Delta played Roaring Fork on Tuesday and is scheduled to play in Glenwood Springs on Friday, Dec. 18, with girls' and boys' varsity games set for 6 and 7:30 p.m. On Saturday the Panthers will host Battle Mountain at 2 and 3:30 p.m.