Delta High School's girls basketball team was six points away from advancing to the Great 8 round in this year's Class 3A State Basketball Tournament. Some key turnovers in the late stages contributed to a 57-52 loss on Saturday, to No. 1 seed Kent Denver, and ended Delta's hopes of reaching the quarterfinal round (Great 8) in this year's state tournament.
The Panthers came into this year's state tournament ranked 17th with a 15-7 record. Their first-round opponent in regional play was No. 16 Resurrection Christian (17-5). A good second half of play lifted Delta to a 56-53 upset win with a shot at No. 1. Delta's opening round win matches the Panthers' start in the playoffs a year ago when Delta defeated St. Mary's to advance to the Sweet 16.
Delta 56, Cougars 53
Friday's opening round game between Delta and Resurrection Christian began with a cautious first quarter featuring plenty of nerves from both teams. Delta squeaked out an 8-5 edge as the two teams began second-period action.
The Cougars found their offense to be more potent than Delta's in the second quarter and used a 23-15 run for a 28-23 lead at halftime.
The Panthers reversed the scoring numbers from the second quarter and prevailed in a 23-16 surge for a 46-44 lead going to the fourth quarter.
A closely contested fourth period eventually went to the Panthers (10-9) allowing Delta to claim a 56-53 decision.
Elisabeth Perl was the game's leading scorer with 22 points for the Cougars with Katelyn Anderson adding 10. Delta got 14 points from Sara Geddes, 11 from Jenna Sutliff, 10 from Missa Webb and eight from Keely Porter.
KD 57, Delta 52
Delta played well for most of the game with an eight-point deficit in the second quarter (18-10) spelling the difference in the title game.
Delta led by two at the end of one period and trailed 31-25 at the half. A one-point advantage in the third period wasn't enough for Delta with both teams finishing the game with 12 points in the fourth quarter and a 57-52 win for Kent Denver.
The Sun Devils take a 21-3 record into next week's Great 8 matchup against the top WSL team, No. 8 Moffat County (19-5) at 11:45 a.m. March 8. Delta ends its season at 16-8.
An error-marked season plagued the Panthers all season but head coach Kyle Crowder was pleased with the overall performance of his team. "Overall, I'm really pleased with the weekend's efforts ... We played with a ton of heart and effort.
"The girls were fearless and seemed to have turned a corner in terms of believing that we can play with any team. The bright spots were great execution on defense with great hustle.
"Offensively the girls were aggressive and seemed to relax and shoot the right shots. Missa and Jenna seemed to be our solids going for 19 and 20 points on the weekend and Sara had 27 total and Aubrey had 17. Keely and Alex finished with 12 and 13 ... so a really balanced offensive effort. All the girls played well and I could not have asked for more from anyone of them. I am so proud of the season and excited to see how we grow as a team in the future," noted Crowder.
The seventh annual Eckert Crane Days, the annual viewing of the sandhill cranes migrating north from New Mexico through Colorado's West Slope, will be March 16-18. Representatives from the Black Canyon Chapter of the Audubon Society (BCAS) will be at the viewing site east of Eckert at Fruitgrowers Reservoir, 9 to 11 a.m. each day, to answer questions and provide binoculars and spotting scopes.