The Lady Bobcats jumped out to a quick lead on St. Elizabeth, but it came at a price.
Less than two minutes into the game, senior point guard Taylor Smith went down with an ankle injury.
"It was a tough game because Taylor got hurt in the first two minutes of the ballgame," Delta head coach Mark Verticchio said. "From then on we were out of whack, especially the first half."
With their floor leader on the bench, Delta had to look elsewhere for points and leadership.
Freshman Machela VanGennip answered the call in a big way.
Although VanGennip is typically a shooting guard, she took over Smith's ball-handling duties, as well as picking up the scoring load for her team.
"Machela did a nice job," said Verticchio. "She scored quite a bit, but she also ran the point, and it's awfully hard to ask a freshman to become your point guard all of a sudden when she's been your two-guard all year, and to run the team and still score. She did a really nice job of that."
VanGennip finished with a game-high 23 points.
With Smith on the bench, Delta was still able to put together an impressive first half.
The Lady Bobcats held a 10 point lead after one quarter, and were able to widen the gap to 33-21 at the half.
St. Elizabeth was finally able to break through offensively in the third quarter, posting their highest point total of the night. However, the Lady Bobcats picked things up a notch as well, extending their lead yet again.
Defensive pressure in the fourth quarter prevented St. Elizabeth from making any kind of run. The Lady Hornets were forced into several turnovers, and were only able to put up two points in the final frame.
"I thought our press was very effective tonight," said Verticchio. "We knew we were going to have to press them because of their size. I also thought we did a real good job on their post players in the second half. I thought the whole group played well. Anytime you get to the sectionals, a win is a win."
"Our girls played their hearts out," St. Elizabeth head coach Sheila Heckemeyer said. "We just didn't handle the pressure well. We knew that there would be pressure, we knew that they would try to run. I guess we just didn't expect it to be as overwhelming as it was. They're everywhere."
St. Elizabeth, who finished the season with an 8-19 record, was led by two freshmen. Erin Struemph had a team-high 17 points, while Morgan Wilde chipped in with 10.
Despite missing time due to her injury, Smith managed to finish the game with a respectable 11 points for the Lady Bobcats.
Delta will advance to the state quarterfinals for the fifth time in the past six years. They will take on the Naylor Lady Eagles. Tipoff will be at 1 p.m. at Three Rivers Community College in Poplar Bluff.
DELTA (61) -- Taylor Smith 11, Katie Brucker 4, Kendra Burnett 7, Machela VanGennip 23, Tori Burton 9, Samantha Bartels 7. FG 20 FT 19-24 F 12. (3-pointers: VanGennip 1, Bartels 1. Fouled out: none.)
ST. ELIZABETH (39) -- Courtney Hoecker 4, Morgan Wilde 10, Megan Holtmeyer 2, Schanzmeyer 17, Jaycine Bax 6. FG 18 FT 3-7 F 19. (3-pointers: none. Fouled out: none.)