Delta girls are a win shy of Columbia

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

The Delta girls basketball team has won 26 games, swept the Scott-Mississippi Conference regular-season and tournament titles, won its own New Year's tournament, claimed its sixth straight district and is in the quarterfinal round for the third time in the past four seasons.

The Bobcats still have goals to reach.

One of those goals is a trip to the state final four. Delta (26-1) will try to reach that goal today when it plays defending Class 1 state champion Chadwick (25-4) at 1 p.m. at the West Plains Civic Center.

Chadwick has appeared in the Class 1 final four two straight seasons, having finished third in 2004. Chadwick earned its trip to Columbia last season thanks to a 45-29 win over Delta.

"That, of course, is additional motivation," Delta coach Randy White said. "Our players who were on the varsity last year, they're all of one mindset. They've been looking forward to this game since last year."

While the Bobcats do not have any players with final four experience, most of their squad was around the 2003 team which placed third in Class 1. The 2003 trip to Columbia was only the second final four appearance for the program.

"Most of us practiced with them," junior Kaci Menz said. "That's what we've wanted to do ever since we had a shot at it."

Delta lost just one starter from last year's quarterfinal squad. While nearly all of Delta's varsity players have more than one year of varsity experience, the Bobcats do not have a senior on their roster.

"We pretty well have the same players back except one," said junior Shea Smith, "and we've got a really good freshman" in Jodi Menz.

Smith leads a balanced team in scoring at more than 16 points per game. Kaci Menz averages more than 13 points per game, and Ashley Deprow and Kayla Seabaugh also average in double figures.

Chadwick graduated two starters from last year's championship team, including leading scorer Jessi Peirce. The Cardinals have a pair of 6-footers in juniors Misty Bettis and Amanda Workman. Bettis averaged more than 11 points last season.

"They've got the two big kids Bettis and Workman. They're both good ball players, started since they were freshman," White said. "They've got a couple of guards that can shoot the 3. They've been there so they'll be tough."

The key to Delta's success today will be the play of its defense. Delta allowed less than 30 points a game during the regular season, and gave up 41 against Scott County Central.

"We feel like one of our big strengths has been our defense," White said. "All year long, our defense has kept us in game after game. If you're not having a good shooting game, at least the defense is consistent."

The Class 1 final four will begin Thursday in Columbia, Mo., and the Bobcats are hoping they will be in the field, searching for their first state title.

"Just a few more games," Kaci Menz said.

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