A two-point third quarter was definitely the nadir of Delavan-Darien’s frustration here, as Union Grove cruised to a key 54-32 Southern Lakes Conference win.

The loss severely crippled the Comets’ quest for a third straight SLC title. Delavan-Darien dropped to 6-3 in the conference (11-4 overall), while Union Grove—which received votes in the latest AP Division 2 state poll—went two games ahead of the Comets at 8-1 in conference play (14-2 overall). Waterford is also 8-1 in the SLC after defeating Westosha Central on Thursday.

“Now we have to ask for a lot of help, and we still have to win out,” said Delavan-Darien coach Keiya Square, whose team has lost to the Broncos twice this season. “We still have some tough games coming up. I wouldn’t say it was a must-win (tonight), but it was definitely a win that we needed if we wanted to control our own destiny.

“I know our girls want to play (Union Grove) again (in the postseason). It’s just one of those things where we have to keep plugging away, get better, take this as a learning experience and hope we see them again.”

The Comets tried to play a zone defense on Thursday, utilizing the size of posts Alana Cesarz and Michelle Wenzel inside. But the Broncos ruined that plan by drilling seven three-pointers in the first half, which forced Delavan-Darien to switch to man-to-man in the second quarter.

Union Grove raced out to a 9-0 lead, an advantage that swelled to 29-10 in the second quarter and 31-17 at halftime. Bekah Jasperson’s 17 points, and Alyssa Thomas’ 14 points and five assists led the Broncos.

Cesarz paced the Comets with 16 points and nine rebounds, but Union Grove’s 1-3-1 zone made it difficult for her to get quality touches near the basket. Thomas was relentless at the top of the zone, deflecting seemingly every ball that was passed around the perimeter. Her defense keyed 26 Delavan-Darien turnovers, which led to a parade of fastbreak points for the Broncos as the Comets wore down in the second half.

“They really do a good job of just hustling and getting in the passing lanes,” Square said. “Thomas is phenomenal at the top of that (zone). They play 1-3-1 match-up-type stuff, and she does a great job of just jumping around and deflecting a lot of passes.”

Delavan-Darien (32)—Cesarz, 7-2-16; Flood, 3-0-9; O’Neil, 0-1-1; Wenzel, 3-0-6. Totals: 13-3-32.

Union Grove (54)—Jasperson, 7-0-17; Thomas, 6-1-14; Wilks, 0-5-5; Lee, 3-0-6; Fink, 2-0-6; Grindle, 2-0-6. Totals: 20-6-54.

Delavan-Darien 6 11 2 13—54

Union Grove 17 14 7 16—32

Three-point goals—Delavan-Darien 3 (Flood 3), Union Grove 8 (Jasperson 3, Fink 2, Grindle 2, Thomas). Free throws missed—Delavan-Darien 1, Union Grove 4. Total fouls—Delavan-Darien 13, Union Grove 12.

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