Delta High School's girls team lost four of its last five games but had high enough RPI points to make it into the field of 32 of post-season play.
The Panthers (13-9) were seeded 26th in last week's regional play in Denver. Delta drew No. 7 The Academy of Westminster for its first round contest. The Wildcats, from the Frontier League, owned an 18-4 record and was the host school with Delta, No. 10 Liberty Common (19-3) and and No. 23 Trinidad making up the four-team bracket.
Delta played exceptionally well on Friday and upset the 7th-seeded Wildcats, 57-50 to advance to the title game against Liberty Common, a 60-35 winner over Trinidad. Delta lost to the Eagles 53-29.
Unfortunately for the Panthers, Emily Nortnik suffered a concussion in the opening round of play against The Academy and could not play against Liberty Common on Saturday.
Nortnik suffered the injury in the third quarter when she dived on the floor attempting to secure a loose ball. She finished the game but developed suspected symptoms of a concussion later in the day and was taken to a hospital for diagnosis and treatment.
Liberty Common got 28 points from Hailey Miklos, the Class 3A leading scorer averaging 22.4 points per game.
Delta 57, TA 50
Delta battled its way to a 13-6 lead after the first quarter and owned a 29-17 lead at halftime. Nortnik was responsible for seven of the Panthers' 13 points in the opening quarter and scored six in the third on her way to a team-high 19 points.
The Panthers had balanced scoring in the second quarter with five players figuring in the point-production.
Aubrey Jones, Nortnik and Sara Geddes had four points each for the Panthers.
Nortnik's six points, in the third quarter, led the Panthers on an 18-14 advantage and a 47-31 lead with one period left to play.
The Academy's best quarter, offensively, was the fourth where the Wildcats scored 19 points. The effort was too little and too late with Delta holding on for a 57-50 win.
Janaya Steffy led The Academy's offensive efforts with 12 points. Close behind were teammates Mary Turner (11) and Peyton Zamora (10).
Other top scorers for the Panthers included Emily Baier (9), Jenna Sutliff (7) and Sara Geddes (6).
Eagles 53, Delta 29
Delta wasn't the same team without Emily Nortnik on Saturday. The Panthers had a good game plan and proceeded to play well with Geddes, and other players, sharing the load in Nortnik's spot.
Delta coach Kyle Crowder could not find a replacement who would be able to perform as Nortnik but he had faith in those who played with a never-give-up attitude.
The Eagles' Miklos was a scoring machine in the first quarter accounting for all but four of her team's 17 points. The talented senior has played 94 games and has an overall scoring average of 18.7 in the four years played.
Chloe Kohl also had double-figures for Liberty Common finishing with 10 points.
Delta's top scorers, Megan Sandoval and Jenna Sutliff, had six points each. Baier finished with five counters.
Delta coach Kyle Crowder heaped praise on his team for its superior play over the weekend. "Emily Nortnik controlled the game offensively and defensively on Friday. Jo Webb was unbelievably good at the point where she was almost turnover-free for two games. Everyone, who played, contributed on Friday, in terms of points."
Crowder went on to say, "Sara Geddes had great offensive penetration and scored on Friday with good guard play to help break the press. Jenna Sutliff hit threes both nights and scored well each night. Baier was solid and a force both nights on the boards. We had balanced scoring on Saturday, just not enough of it. There were too many turnovers in the game."
Delta ended the year at 13-9 overall and stands to finish in the top 20 of Class 3A state rankings following the remaining games played at this weekend's state tournament at Denver University.