Central girls pick up first win
Warriors beat back Delta's fourth-quarter surge
Delta High School girls basketball team was clinging to a small sliver of hope at the start of the fourth quarter, but Central’s Tyler Hays quickly yanked it away.
The smooth-playing junior guard scored 14 points Saturday to lead the Warriors to their first win of the season, a 41-32 victory over the Panthers in the Wildcat Invitational at Fruita Monument High School.
Central (1-5) led 28-14 when Hays swished a baseline jumper just inside the 3-point line off an inbounds play to start the fourth. The next time down, she had an assist to Taryn Smith. Then she made a perfect bounce pass to freshman Jodeci Toomaiatai, who banked in a layup for a 32-17 Warriors’ lead.
Central coach Mary Doane said Hays is playing unselfishly.
“She got our offense going early,” Doane said. “She showed some good patience in the half-court offense, too.”
Distributing the ball more is something Hays has worked on.
“I’m trying to get our other teammates more involved. It makes our team better,” she said.
The Warriors tried to break the Panthers’ zone by pounding the ball inside whenever they could.
“We wanted to work the high-low,” Doane said. “It worked fairly well.”
Even though the Warriors don’t have much height, their athleticism and physical play resulted in 18 points in the paint.
Delta (1-3) worked to get back into the game behind a strong fourth quarter from freshman Lily Lockhart, who scored 11 of her 13 points during the rally.
The game was seemingly over after the Central run to start the fourth, but Delta’s late spurt put a scare into the Warriors.
When Katie Puderbaugh drilled a 3-pointer from the left corner, the lead was down to 36-29. A Lockhart bucket made it 36-32, and the Central faithful were restless with 18 seconds remaining.
Five straight free throws by Cassidy Bryant secured the win for the Warriors. She finished with nine points and made seven of 12 free throws.
For Delta coach Matt Hamm, the push late in the fourth was a good sign for a team that has struggled offensively.
The Panthers scored 18 points in the final period and only 14 over the first three quarters.
“All in all we wanted to use this tournament to see what we have and get ready for the league,” he said. “We’re just not real confident on offense, but defensively I’m pretty pleased.”
The first half and much of the third quarter was a disaster for Delta on the offensive end. Reilly Quist, who had eight points, broke a long scoring drought with a 3-pointer to cut the Central lead to 13-8.
D’Kota Brodie grabbed a missed shot for a bucket right before the buzzer to push the Central lead to 18-11 at the half.
Defensively, the Delta zone made it difficult on the Warriors, especially in the third quarter.
Bryant hit a basket to start the third, but that was it for scoring until Hays hit a runner with a 2:10 remaining for a 22-12 lead.
Makenzie Lange hit a baseline jumper off a nice pass from Shanelle Southam to push the lead to 26-14 at the end of three.
With only one senior on the team, Central is young, and getting the first win of the season is a big relief.
“Hopefully we will build off this and keep it going,” Hays said.