By: Joe Blystone
THE VILLAGE REPORTER
It may have been just the second week of the regular season, but Delta and Montpelier played with the intensity of a district tournament game.
However when it counted most, it was the Panthers’ Grace Munger making every big play in the fourth quarter to turn a one-point Delta lead into a 43-37 win that boosted the Panthers to 3-0 on the young season.
“In the end this could’ve gone either way,” Delta coach Kelsey Gillen said. “Our girls just didn’t give in when they kept coming at us. I think we had a little more depth that what they are used to with the number of people we played.”
Delta’s trapping defense turned three early Montpelier turnovers into scores as Katie Friess found Kendall Sprow and Alani Haas for hoops then Munger hit Sprow for a layup and a quick 6-0 lead.
Haas buried a long triple off the left side to extend the margin to 9-2 before the Locos rallied to knot the score at 11s when Jada Uribes laced her second long range bomb of the first with 18 seconds left.
Aleigha Hillard’s drive to the rim put the Locos ahead a minute into the second and Kelsie Bumb’s blast off the glass from outside made it a three point lead with 5:21 left in the half.
Ashlyn Lamb’s triple with 42 ticks on the clock regained Delta a tie at 18-18 but Hillard put the Locos up again with a spin and drive 14 seconds later.
Haas found Sprow on a back cut at the :13 mark to bring the Panthers even going into the half.
Friess put Delta ahead for good starting the second half when she stuck an uncontested triple from the right of the top of the key 19 seconds in.
Sprow split a pair from the line and Abbey Todd’s drive gave Delta their biggest lead since the first quarter at 26-20 halfway through the third.
Todd made it a seven point margin with a triple off a look from Friess but Bumb answered back from the top of the circle, then with 2/2 from the line to keep Montpelier within 31-27 heading into the fourth.
Uribes spin move ‘and-1″ got the Locos to a one point deficit with 7:10 to go in the game before Munger took over.
The senior southpaw scored off a dish from Keegan Gillen then dropped a pair of dimes back to Gillen for layups to push the Panthers back up seven at 39-32 with 4:30 left.
Meara McGee and Bumb knocked in 3/4 from the stripe to cut the margin to 39-35 but twice more Munger found open people for easy scores, first Friess, then Ella Demaline to hold off the Locos.
“Grace is just a go to player,” Gillen said of her 5’11 senior. “Regardless if she is scoring or making steals, putting pressure on the ball, finding open people, her presence on the floor as a leader is huge.”
“We’ve told her whether you are scoring or not, find the open teammate, find that girl for the easy basket. That is our focus this year. Like it says on the back of our shirts ‘We over me’. We are playing as a team.”
“This was a high caliber, tournament style game that both teams went up and down,” Loco veteran coach Mike Bumb explained after.
“Both teams gave tremendous effort. This is a game we lost and I’m not into moral victories but this is a game that made us better. We came up a little short tonight but I think we have a pretty good club.”
Bumb led all scorers with 14 and Uribes had 11. Delta did not have a double figure scorer, however echoed Gillen’s “team” oriented philosophy by assisting on 11 of 18 baskets.
Delta was 18-44 from the field and had 24 turnovers. Montpelier shot 12-45 and was guilty of 23 miscues.
MONTPELIER (37) – Bumb 14; Hillard 4; Z. Uribes 2; Mahan 1; McGee 3; Hopper 2; J. Uribes 11; Totals: 8-4-9 – 37
DELTA (43) – Demaline 2; Munger 6; Todd 5; Friess 7; Haas 5; Sprow 9; Lamb 3; Gillen 6; Smith 0; Totals: 13-4-5 – 43
MONTPELIER 11 9 7 10 – 37
DELTA 11 9 11 12 – 43
JUNIOR VARSITY: Delta, 38-15