The last time Delta and Evergreen got together in girls basketball, the game more resembled an NBA All-Star game with a minimum of defense and a ton of three-point shots going up from all areas outside the arc.
In the rematch, Delta was much improved defensively, took much better care of the basketball and hit 10-14 from the foul line in the final 4:44 to take a 50-39 win.
“Fundamentally we were much more sound tonight,” Delta Coach Kelsey Gillen said of the difference from the first time the two teams met. “We defended, we took care of the basketball, we got the shots we wanted and hit them when we needed them.”
Bekah Bowser scored three baskets of the old cherry-pick variety early to give the Vikings a 9-6 lead, but Evergreen couldn’t hit anything else the last 4:45 of the quarter.
Khloe Weber scored inside, then Alani Haas picked a pass on one of eight first quarter turnovers the Vikes committed to give Delta a 10-9 lead.
Kate Friess hit the last bucket of the first on a putback, then Grace Munger bagged a triple off yet another Viking turnover beginning the second and Weber scored on a stop-and-go move to cap an 11-0 run and give the Panthers a 17-9 lead.
Bowser banged in a three off the glass and hit another with an Addy Ricker bucket in between to bring the Vikes back up 22-20, but Delta ended the half with the last six.
Haas hit a runner between two Olivia Smith baskets inside for a 26-22 Panther margin at intermission.
With the Panthers up 34-31 after a Bowser basket with seven minutes to go in the game, Weber hit a left-to-right curl along with a foul line jumper to help boost the Panthers to a 40-33 edge with under five minutes left.
From there, Delta was money at the line while Evergreen could only manage late triples from Bowser and Macy Chamberlin.
Sophia Burres was the biggest contributor at the stripe, going 5-6 in the last four minutes.
For the game, Delta didn’t exactly shoot it well at 17-51, but that looked good compared to the Vikings’ 14-65.
The Panthers only committed six turnovers on the night while Evergreen had 15.
Bowser did end up with 22 points to lead all scorers, however, the next closest Viking in the book had just six.
“We put a little more pressure on her and it seemed to help,” explained Gillen. “That seemed to pick us up energy wise. I think we made her work harder to score than she did last time.
“This is a great win for us to build our confidence. Overall we just played more solid. It’s a great boost of confidence moving forward.”
Weber scored 13 and Burres 11 to pace the Panthers.
The two teams will meet again Wednesday night in a Division III sectional semifinal. A story from that matchup will be in the Tuesday, Feb. 22 issue of the Expositor.