A senior-less season fails to ground Delta

Tuesday, March 9, 2004

Delta's girls basketball team's home schedule ended with a 66-18 rout of Oran on Feb. 23.

A performance befitting something as special as senior night was devoid of only one thing -- a senior. After fielding a squad in which five of its top seven performers were seniors last season, Delta's team this season has only four upperclassmen and no seniors.

On the heels of a 27-3 season that netted a third-place finish at state, Delta starts two freshman, a sophomore and two juniors. The Bobcats' younger additions have picked up right where the seniors left off, though. Delta carries a 19-5 record into tonight's Class 1 sectional matchup with Scott County Central at Sikeston High School.

Delta coach Randy White said while some of his players may lack varsity experience, they make up for it by having winning backgrounds.

"Our younger kids, even though they haven't been to this level, they have come up winning tournaments," he said.

Delta's two freshmen, Shea Smith and Kaci Menz, have been among its top scorers this season. Smith leads the team with 13.8 points a game, while Menz is tied with junior Sarah Cook at 11.4 points.

"They're a very important part of the ball club," White said of his freshmen.

Delta's first roadblock on the way to a repeat trip to Columbia will be a familiar foe -- Scott County Central (14-12). The Bravettes moved from District 2, where it played Delta in the district finals last season, to District 1.

White said his team's postseason success last year should help his team.

"I think any time you've had success the year before it raises expectations for the kids," he said. "I believe it causes them to dream a bit."

Tonight's clash will come less than two weeks after the two teams met in their regular-season finale. Delta came away with a 59-44 win.

"I don't even think about that," White said. "We just look at who we have to play and prepare for them."

While the Bobcats young squad has not garnered the state-wide attention it did last season, they have built a strong record by beating up on bigger schools. Delta has only two Class 1 teams on its schedule in Oran and Scott County Central. Among the Bobcats' wins this season is a victory over Class 3 District 2 champion Charleston.

"We just feel like if we play well, we have a shot at most anyone," White said.

Even though the Bravettes have an older core group of players, neither team has a great deal of state playoff veterans. For Scott County, this will be its first sectional game since 1999. The Bravettes had won 16 straight district titles from 1984 to 1999, making 10 final four appearances and winning seven state titles.

White said having players back like Cook and Becky Rozmirsky should help set an example for the less experienced players.

"It always helps to have some kids that have been there," he said. "It has a calming affect on the others."

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