Despite losing three key players from last year, Delta girls basketball has high hopes for the upcoming season. They have two starters back, plus a total of four seniors to help them stay competitive.
“I think this team has potential to be very good,” said head coach Ryan Ripke. “The quicker we gel as a team and have leaders step up both on the court and in the locker room, the better. With a lot of girls growing into new roles this season, I think we will see a lot of improvement in our team as the year goes along. Hopefully, we will be hitting our stride as the new year arrives and we start our new conference schedule.”
Ripke has been the head man at Delta since 2010, and last season his Panthers finished 16-7 overall and 7-1 in the Northwest Ohio Athletic League.
However, they do depart letter winners such as Morgan Mattimore who was first team All-NWOAL, District 7 and all-district, as well as honorable mention All-Ohio. Also gone to graduation are Jenni Davis (second team all-league, District 7) and Jessi Davis (honorable mention all-league, District 7).
“We have a lot of unknowns this year,” said Ripke. “While we have six girls back from last year’s squad, all those girls were role players. This will be a great opportunity for some girls to step up and play major roles for the first time. The quicker they can grow into those roles, the better for our team. Also, our guards aren’t very big so decision making on drives into the paint will be a challenge. Depth could also be a question for us for at least part of the season.”
Returning for the Panthers are seniors Emily Clifton, Darian Elendt, Hayley Callahan and Mary Miller. Also, junior Maddie Mattimore and sophomore Abbie Freeman are back.
“I think this is a well-rounded team,” stated Ripke. “We have a solid group of seniors, as well as a good mix of underclassmen. Our guards are very quick and athletic and that should help us put a lot of defensive pressure on the other teams. Our post players should be able to provide us with some good rebounding and post defense.”
Newcomers to the roster are Erin Mazurowski, Alayna Mitchell, and Cassandra Lee.
“Alayna Mitchell had a serious knee injury that will keep her out until the middle of January,” said Ripke. “She was going to be counted on for depth at the guard position for us, however, because of her injury, other girls are going to be needed to fill in until she gets healthy. Along the way, hopefully, they will earn themselves a permanent spot on the varsity squad. Cassandra Lee is a girl that we have gained more and more confidence in as the preseason has progressed.”
Ripke sees a lot of teams vying for the NWOAL crown.
“I think the league this year has the potential to be just as balanced as it was a couple years ago,” he said. “I would be surprised if someone finishes unbeaten in the league. PH has a lot of girls coming back so I see them as being the favorite. Archbold is always up near the top and I don’t see this year being any different. I think Bryan has a lot of very talented guards coming back. After that, I think the next few teams are very balanced and it may come down to who plays at home, who is healthy, and who shows up to play on that given night.”
The coach has his team picked fourth behind the Patriots, Blue Streaks and Golden Bears.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010