A long trip and an early game isn’t the recipe for success in all cases, and this was so Friday. The Delta High School Panthers made a long trip to Denver to participate in the Faith Christian basketball tournament Dec. 6 and 7.
Friday’s trip took its toll as both the girls and boys hoops teams found The Vanguard School to be more than inhospitable in losses for both teams. Delta’s girls were short changed on the scoring in the opening half against The Vanguard in a 59-47 loss. Game two for Delta’s girls was against Faith Christian with the final outcome more to the liking of the Panthers and their fans. Delta ran past the Eagles to score 51-14. The boys were treated no better in their game against The Vanguard, where the Coursers put on a shooting display from long range to stop the Panthers, 66-39. Delta’s second game of the tournament on Saturday was with Manitou Springs, which had a big second half, for a 78-67 win over the Panthers.
The opening weekend of basketball for Delta’s No. 3 ranked Panthers may not have had the shine they would have liked with an opening round loss to The Vanguard School. One of the ingredients missing from Delta’s first games of the season was senior Sara Geddes. Geddes has been practicing for several weeks but has not been cleared to participate in games until January. Her 10-20 points per game will definitely give Delta a distinct edge when she’s in the lineup. Her conditioning and muscle development are the main concern at this point and when she does step onto the floor, the Panthers will be decidedly better at both ends of the game.
What the Panthers did have was a talented group of players who finally got their legs under them and played better in the second half against The Vanguard. A 36-19 first-half run by the Coursers was enough to pull off the win, but Delta outscored them 28-24 in the second half.
Senior Keely Porter held the hot hand for Delta and finished with 17 points with sophomore Erika Kuta adding 12 counters in a support role. Senior Haylin McCulloch chipped in nine points in the loss. The Vanguard had three players in double figures, freshman Hailey Blanchard (19), junior Alexis Garcia (16) and freshman Juliana Garcia (12).
Saturday’s contest against Faith Christian was all Delta with the Panthers running to a 20-6 lead after one period. Delta’s scoring pace slowed the next three quarters with the Panthers outscoring the Eagles 31-7 to make the final score 51-14.
Porter was Delta’s leading scorer with 17 points, nine coming in the fourth quarter, and Kuta finished with eight. Ashley Finch scored seven points to lead the Eagles’ offense.
Delta’s defense wasn’t what coach Rob Ames had anticipated from his Panthers. The Vanguard School had all the answers to stifle the Panthers defense with some long-range shooting that more than made the difference in the game. The Panthers were slow out of the gate and managed just six points in the first quarter of the game. A better second quarter saw Delta score 15 points, with six coming from senior Nate Workman.
Second-half scoring was hampered by a stingy Coursers’ defense with Delta scoring only 17 points in two quarters.
Workman finished the game with 10 points and senior Hunter Hughes had eight to lead Delta’s offense.
On Saturday against Manitou Springs, the Panthers played more like themselves with more energy and confidence. A 14-7 first quarter had Delta playing at a faster pace. Hughes was the catalyst in the first quarter with five points. A second quarter frenzy produced 27 points for the Panthers with Workman scoring eight points with teammates Javi Medina and Felipe Bedoy hitting a pair of 3-pointers for six points each. The Panthers enjoyed a 41-30 halftime lead.
Manitou Springs was unconscious in the third quarter and poured in 32 points to take a 62-59 lead to the fourth period.
The Mustangs didn’t have the same kind of scoring pace in the final eight minutes, but they did keep the edge with an 18-8 advantage to record a 78-67 win.
Workman was, again, Delta’s leading scorer for the Panthers with 20 points. Hughes finished with 12 points, and Medina and Colbi Braslin had nine points each. The Panthers finished the game with nine 3-point goals, three from Medina and two each from Alexis Fausto and Bedoy. Workman and Hughes added one 3-pointer each.
“Inexperience and new roles played a factor, but we played our tails off and got better,” Ames said. “It was a good weekend for us despite the scores.”
Delta’s basketball schedule included a final preseason game before the Christmas break. The Panthers played at home against Olathe on Dec. 10 and will not play again until Friday, Dec. 20, when Alamosa comes to town for games at 3, 4:30, 6 and 7:30 p.m. Centauri is in town on Saturday for games beginning at 11 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.