Delta managed just six first half points, rallied late to pull within five with less than 30 seconds remaining, but ultimately dropped a 34-28 decision to Montpelier Saturday night at home.
The Panthers dropped to 0-2 on the season. It was the Locomotives first game of the young season.
In the fourth quarter it appeared as if the Panthers would be left for dead when four straight points from Montpelier’s Blake Altaffer on back-to-back trips made it a 33-19 Locomotive lead with 3:48 to go.
Delta then got a bucket from Nick Mazurowski, followed by a total of six straight free throws which trimmed the deficit to 33-27 with only 34 seconds left. They also benefited from the Locomotives coming up empty on the front-end of a 1-and-1.
Montpelier would miss another front-end, leading to the Panthers splitting a pair at the other end and getting the margin down to five.
However, the Panthers could not get closer and 1 of 2 free throws by Montpelier’s Garrett Walz closed out the game’s scoring.
Montpelier gained the early advantage in the first half, leading 9-4 after the first quarter thanks to a Altaffer 3-pointer plus Walz’ bucket off a steal.
They then limited Delta to a single bucket — Mazurowski’s putback — in the second quarter. After that hoop to make it an 11-6 Locomotive advantage, a triple by Thomas Jay and Walz’ utilization of the glass for a hoop put them up 16-6 at the half.
Delta did outscore Montpelier 8-6 in the third but made up little ground.
The Panthers got it down to five at 18-13 with under two minutes left in the period, but Brody Kreischer’s bucket off a backdoor cut and Gavin Stratton’s floater around 1 of 2 free throws by Delta’s James Ruple kept them down 22-14 heading into the fourth.
Delta has added a home game against Napoleon (1-1) for Tuesday.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010