ROSSVILLE – The 1A Rossville Hornets kept it close the entire game, but the No. 17 2A Delphi Oracles came away with a 48-44 victory in Tuesday’s non-conference girls’ basketball game.
Delphi’s defensive pressure forced Rossville turnovers early in the game, which helped lead to a 5-0 Oracle advantage. The Hornets tightened up their play as the game moved on and outscored the Oracles 10-7 off turnovers.
Sophomore Mallory Roberts scored Rossville’s first points of the game with 5:50 left in the first quarter to bring the Hornets within three points. She finished the game with nine points and six rebounds.
The Oracles went on another 5-0 run until freshman Maggie Deboy came up with a block, which spurred a Hornet offensive attack that ended with freshman Julia Malson hitting 1-of-2 free throws to make it 10-3, Delphi with 3:53 left in the first quarter.
Deboy finished the game with six points, five rebounds while Malson had seven points and a team-high 10 rebounds (7 offensive boards).
Sophomore Keely Criswell, who had a team-high 12 points and added four rebounds, scored the next four Hornet points to bring Rossville within five points with a minute left in the opening period. Malson had an offensive rebound and putback late in the quarter to bring the game within three points, but a late Delphi 3-pointer gave the Oracles a 15-9 lead going into the second quarter.
After a slow offensive start by both teams, Malson grabbed an offensive rebound and fed the ball to senior Danielle Memmer (4 points, 2 rebounds) for the basket midway through the second quarter. The Oracles led 19-13 at that point.
The Hornets went on a 7-0 run to end the second quarter, which brought them within a point of the Oracles. Rossville maintained possession to close out the first half, but couldn’t find an open look for a shot and took a 21-20 deficit into the second half.
Rossville’s relentless play in the third quarter kept the game within three points during the entire 8-minute span. Rossville senior Breanna Wainscott hit a 3-pointer with 1:39 left in the third quarter to make it 30-29, Delphi. She finished the game with six points, hitting 2-of-4 shots from long-range.
The two teams traded baskets during the closing seconds of the third quarter and the Oracles held a 34-31 lead going into the final eight minutes of play.
After a scoreless opening two minutes of the fourth quarter, Delphi freshman Emily Jakes hit a 3-pointer to extend the Oracle lead to five points. The Oracles outscored the Hornets 8-2 from that point until midway through the quarter to take a 45-33 lead.
A Criswell basket plus a pair of Deboy baskets helped Rossville bring the game within six points with 2:27 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Wainscott closed out the game hitting a late 3-pointer, but it ended up being too little, too late in the end.
Rossville head coach Mike Gick said it was a total team effort highlighted by strong defensive play.
“Our defense was phenomenal,” he said. “We executed, everybody that came in stepped up. We had a lot of contributions from a lot of people tonight.”
Rossville dropped to 7-15 with the loss while Delphi improved to 18-4 with the win.
Gick said his team’s play against one of the top 2A schools speaks volumes to the improvement they’ve made this season.
“If anything, it proved to our girls that we can play with these teams,” he said. “We have taken another step.”
Rossville wraps up the regular season at Twin Lakes Thursday and begins sectional play against Frontier at home Tuesday. Rossville beat Frontier both times the two teams met this season.
“It’s tough to play a team three times,” Gick said of the sectional matchup. “We want to come out and execute, we want to make sure we have our ‘A’ game like we did tonight, and hopefully we can take care of business.”
The Hornets are looking for their first sectional win in five years.