RISE AND FIRE … Delta’s Bryce Gillen elevates for a jumper as part of his 16-point night for the Panthers. (PHOTO BY RICH HARDING, STAFF)
By: Daniel Cooley
BRYAN – Behind a game-high 16 points from Bryce Gillen, Delta was able to pick up a 36-28 road win over Bryan.
Bryan had narrowed the Delta lead to just 27-26 with four minutes left in the game on a Jase Kepler free throw and a pair of charity tosses from Joe Watson.
But Delta then turned up the defensive pressure, turning four Bryan turnovers into a 9-0 scoring run.
That gave Delta a 36-26 lead, with 20 seconds left in the game. Bryan’s Sam Herold, who finished with eight points, scored a bucket just before the final buzzer, as Delta held on for the eight-point win.
“We’re not crazy big, so we’re making full court pressure defense a part of our game,” said Delta coach Matt Brighton.
“We may not always force turnovers, but we were able to get them (late in the game), when it mattered.”
Delta was able to salt the game away at the free throw line, making 7-9 in the final quarter. Gillen was 4-4 from the free throw line, while Nolan Risner was 2-2.
Risner, who finished with nine points and a team high eight rebounds, also had a key putback in the fourth quarter.
“Last week, we were just 3-11 from the free throw line against Evergreen (a 40-35 loss), so we’ve really been working on free throws in practice this past week,” Brighton said.
“We’ve got to keep building off (tonight’s free throw performance}.”
At the start of the game, Bryan jumped out to an early 4-0 advantage, but Delta answered with a 9-0 run to take a 9-4 lead.
Gillen scored seven of the nine points off two layups from steals and nailed a three-pointer.
Bryan rallied back to tie the game early in the second quarter on an Evan Cox jumper.
But Delta answered that run with a 7-0 run of its own, to take a 16-9 lead late in the first half.
Jude Gibbons hit a pair of free throws, James Ruple made an inside shot and Gillen then swished a three -pointer.
Delta held an 18-13 lead at the midway point and maintained control through most of the remainder of the game. Delta led 25-21 after three periods.
With the win, Delta improves to 8-2 overall and 1-1 in the NWOAL.
“We knew that Bryan is a physical team and they hurt us early, but we were able to handle it after that,” Brighton said.
“It’s been a long time since we’ve started a season at 8-2, so this feels good.”
Bryan (3-9 overall and 0-2 in the NWOAL) was led by Watson’s 10 points.
DELTA (36) – Gibbons 2; Knapp 1; Gillen 16; Ja. Ruple 8; Risner 9; Totals: 10-2-10 – 36
BRYAN (28) – Langenderfer 2; Kepler 3; Cox 3; Watson 10; Herold 8; Dominique 2; Pelz 0; Koenig 0 Totals 11-0-6 – 28
THREE POINT GOALS: Delta – Gillen 2
DELTA 9 9 7 11 – 36
BRYAN 7 6 8 7 – 28
JUNIOR VARSITY: Delta, 31-19
Dan can be reached at email@example.com