At one point in time this year, Matt Brighton’s Delta Panthers were plodding along at 3-7.
But the Panthers kept after it and when Evergreen came in flat as a skillet, Brighton’s Panthers took advantage and scored a 48-45 win Monday in non-league boys basketball.
It was Delta’s 7th triumph in their last 11 games, and 10th overall.
“We’ve been trying to keep up with some goals that we set all year,” explained Brighton. “We want to get the ball down low, we want to be tough defensively. It’s something we have preached the last couple years. We want to keep up the same defensive intensity throughout the season. And it’s about five guys on the floor being confident with the ball. Those are things we have worked on constantly and it’s finally starting to click.”
After Evan Lumbrezer’s triple and RJ Shunck’s score inside, Delta took advantage of some careless Viking turnovers to ring up the next 10.
Alex Hodge scored twice, Nolan Risner tripled and Josh Tresnan-Reighard got a basket with an and-one for a 10-5 Delta lead halfway through the first.
Lumbrezer’s steal and hoop, Brock Hudik’s 3-pointer, and Eli Keifer’s basket off yet another steal bumped the Vikings up a point at 12-11 heading into the second. The Vikings then used three baskets from Ethan Loeffler to take a three point lead, 20-17, with 45 seconds left in the half.
However, Bryce Gillen scooped up a loose ball on yet another Viking misplay and rolled to the rim just before the buzzer to knot the game at 20.
Keifer’s triple and another Loeffler bucket helped Evergreen take a 27-22 lead, but Gillen’s long ball and wing jumper along with a score inside by Tresnan-Reighard, and more lackadaisical passes that deprived the Vikings opportunities brought Delta back to a 33-30 lead going into the fourth.
Risner tripled twice more in the fourth and Tresnan-Reighard knocked home four straight from the foul stripe to give the Panthers their biggest lead at 45-36 with 52 seconds left.
That’s when the Vikes almost stole the game back.
Keifer was fouled shooting a triple and drilled all three, and after a Panther miss at the stripe, Lumbrezer’s prayer from way above the top of the key was answered to slice the margin to 45-42 with 28 ticks left.
The Vikes had one more shot when a Delta miscue gave Evergreen a shot but Lumbrezer’s fire from way outside the arc was long and Gillen iced the game with 2-2 from the line with 4.5 to go.
“Again that is something we work on every day,” Brighton said of his team’s performance from the foul line. “We make goals every game to get to the free throw line a certain amount of times. We take pride in that getting to the basket and getting to the line, we were lucky enough to make most of them this time.”
Risner had 12 points and Gillen 11 to lead the Panthers.
Keifer’s 12 and Lumbrezer’s 10 topped the Vikings but the key stat of the night was Evergreen’s 16 turnovers and 8-22 shooting in the second half.
Evergreen rebounds against Lake
The next night, before a raucous crowd, especially a very electric student section, the Vikings, who were so subpar the previous night, came out razor-focused and galvanized, pounding Lake 67-42.
“The key to the game tonight was our crowd,” explained Viking Coach Jerry Keifer. “Our crowd was phenomenal. Our student body was from the floor all the way to the top row and that brought a lot of energy to us, especially after losing the night before. That game (against Delta) our intensity was absolutely not where it should have been and we were all locked in tonight. We probably played some of our best basketball of the season. All the seniors scored, that’s a memory they will keep for a long time.”
Evergreen withstood a barrage of triple tries by the Flyers, two of which Lake’s Cam Hoffman drilled that kept them close early on.
However Lumbrezer, Loeffler and Landen Vance hit buckets to keep the Vikes up, then Shunck scored three times in tight, twice from Lumbrezer assists to push the margin to 16-11.
Evergreen opened it up in the second as Eli Keifer, Lumbrezer and Loeffler each got the old fashioned three-point play along with steal-and-scores from Keifer and Tyson Woodring to bump the advantage to 35-21 at the break.
Evergreen blew the game wide open in the third as Lumbrezer scored 10 of his game-high 21 — two of those hoops off Woodring feeds to take a 57-31 lead into the fourth.
Buckets from Brock Hudik and Hunter Vaculik, plus three-balls by Ben Ruetz and Walker Lumbrezer gave Evergreen their biggest lead at 67-36.
Loeffler scored 11 points and Shunck 10 for Evergreen who is now 11-9 on the season.
Evan Lumbrezer dished out nine assists to go over the 300 mark for his career.
Evergreen finishes the regular season at Liberty Center Friday and by hosting Stryker on Saturday.
Delta plays their season finale Friday against Patrick Henry at home.