The two squads had a defensive battle in the first half, as Delta led 16-14 at halftime. Senior guard Kaci Menz led the Lady Bobcats in the half with 10 points and Delta controlled the boards to gain the two-point advantage at the break.
"Kaci is a very good penetrator on the offensive end," said Delta head coach Randy White. "She is a tough competitor and creates a lot on the floor for the team."
Kelly was outrebounded 21-12 in the first half, including 10-2 on the offensive glass. While the Lady Hawks struggled to rebound, they got significant contributions off the bench. Of their 14 points, eight were from bench players. Kayla Cissell dropped in six points and Ashley Vetter hit a 15-
foot jumper to beat the buzzer in the second quarter.
"Our lack of rebounding was the key to the game tonight," said Kelly head coach Rod McQuerter. "Delta did an excellent job of crashing the boards and putting the pressure on us. I did think that our bench players produced. Sometimes it is tough to keep your bench players motivated throughout the season, but our girls keep a positive attitude and are ready at any given notice."
The Lady Bobcats came out fast to start the third quarter with a 8-0 run to put Kelly back on their heels. Sophomore Jodi Menz, sister of Kaci, attacked the offensive boards in the quarter and got six quick points in the third. Delta led 24-14 with 5:25 to go in the quarter.
Delta outscored Kelly 21-14 in the third quarter and led 37-28 heading into the fourth.
"The difference in the game was the third quarter," said White. "Jodi gave us a lift in the second half. We have been waiting for her to have a game like this. She has tremendous potential and can play like this every game."
The game heated up in the fourth quarter with both teams giving maximum effort. The Lady Hawks battled back in the quarter and had a chance to swing momentum late in the fourth.
Kelly trailed 41-36 with three minutes to play in the contest when junior Sarah Ruff made a great hustle play to steal the ball from Delta and raced down the court for an uncontested lay-up. However, the shot rimmed off and the Lady Bobcats secured the rebound.
Delta took advantage of the miss and increased the lead to 45-38 with 1:20 to play. Kelly would not go away quietly, as senior Brittany Ponder earned three free-throws after being fouled behind the 3-point line.
Ponder hit her first two, but missed the third. However, Cissell snatched the offensive rebound for the Lady Hawks and got the putback to inch closer to Delta. With 51 seconds to play in the fourth, the Lady Bobcats led 45-42.
The Lady Hawks went to a full-court press after the Cissell score. Delta beat the pressure and found Jodi Menz all alone for an easy lay-in to increase the lead to 47-42 with 36 seconds left in the contest.
Delta put the game away at the charity stripe making 3-of-4 shots down the stretch to secure the win and remain undefeated.
"The game had two good teams with intensity," said White. "Each team had surges throughout the game and thankfully we had the last one. Kelly plays hard and are very well-coached. We got some big plays from our bench. Sara Blattel did a good job of blocking out (Debra) Hall and just did a heck of a job on the boards."
Kaci Menz led Delta with a game-high 19 points and hauled down five rebounds. Jodi Menz had 10 points and a game-high 12 rebounds (five offensive).
Sarah Keys contributed for the Lady Bobcats with six points, six rebounds (four offensive) and had three assists. Blattel battled for six points and four rebounds (three offensive) off the bench for Delta.
The Lady Bobcats finished with a 34-21 rebounding advantage, including 20-11 offensively. Delta played a solid zone defense and forced 14 Kelly turnovers, with a eight steals as a team.
Kelly's bench outscored Delta's 20-10 and were led by Cissell with 14 points and seven rebounds. Senior point guard Brittany Ponder finished with 11 points, seven rebounds and three assists. Hall had constant attention in the paint and was held to seven points and three rebounds.
"Despite the loss," said McQuerter, "I feel good about the way we are playing. We play one of the toughest schedules for a Class 3 team in the state. That is the way we like it. It is a great way to prepare for districts."
Kelly won the junior varsity contest 37-33.
Delta (22-0) travels to Ste. Genevieve on Monday to battle Valle, while Kelly (18-6) hosts Portageville. Both games are set to tip at 6 p.m.
PORTAGEVILLE -- The Portageville Lady Bulldogs improved to 18-5 with a 71-30 rout of district opponent East Prairie on Thursday.
Hannah Rone led four Bulldogs in double figures with a game-high 15 points. Brittney Walker had 13, Kellye Penn 11 and Lauren Kellams 10.
Cynthia Cook was the scoring leader for East Prairie with 13 points.
The Portageville junior varsity, behind Courtney Chamberlain's 20 points, defeated East Prairie 55-32. Anna Long chipped in with 10. The victory boosted the Bulldogs' record to 13-3.
Portageville visits Chaffee on Saturday for a make-up game with an 11 a.m. tipoff, then stays on the road for a Monday game against the Kelly Lady Hawks.
ORAN -- The Oran Lady Eagles buried the Scott City Lady Rams 64-34 for a Scott-Mississippi Conference win on Thursday.
Oran (15-8, 4-2 in conference) opened a 21-9 first-quarter lead and took a 34-15 lead in at halftime. The Eagles outscored the Rams 30-19 in the second half.
Wendy Eftink paced the Eagles with 16 points. Callie Kielhofner scored 14, Tiffany Glastetter 12 and Erica Michelsen 10.
Donielle Howell led Scott City with 10 points.
Oran is at Naylor on Monday at 6 p.m.