Delanie Okenfuss does not let her size, or lack thereof, get in the way of doing whatever it takes to help the Lady Panthers win.

Listed as a 5-foot-2-inch guard, Delanie Okenfuss if often the smallest player on the court any given night. But the Monroe City senior does not let her size, or lack thereof, get in the way of doing whatever it takes to help the Lady Panthers win. 

Okenfuss can be found diving on the floor for a loose ball or dashing across the out-of-bounds line to keep a play alive.

“Her effort level every single night is always there,” Lady Panthers coach Cody Leonard said of his starting guard. “She clearly is not the tallest player on the court, but her energy, heart and hustle makes her irreplaceable for what we are trying to do.” 

The Panthers coach credits Okenfuss’ work ethic in the weight room not only during the season but also in the offseason as a reason why she plays without fear. 

“She really does a great job of getting after it in the weight room,” Leonard stated. “She is not afraid to get in there and bang against the bigs and she never shies away from the moment.”

Okenfuss averages 8 points, 3.2 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 2.3 assists and 2.6 steals per game. None of those stats lead the team, but when the Panthers need a big play, Okenfuss, more times than not, delivers.

“She may not always fill up the stat sheet, but she always finds a way to come up with big buckets, big-time steals or deflections,” Leonard said. “And if she can get to the free throw line at the end of the game with the game on the line, there is no one else we would want there.”

From a 35 percent free-throw shooter as a freshman, Okenfuss has connected on 65 percent of her shots from the charity stripe this season and is 60 percent for her career. 

Another part of her game that has improved tremendously over the course of her four-year starting career is her vocal leadership. Leonard mentioned during her freshman year, it was hard to tell Okenfuss was at practice and in games if not from physically seeing her.

“I would say Dee is relatively shy until she gets to know you,” the Lady Panthers coach stated. “As a freshman, I don’t know that we heard her talk a whole lot. Then about halfway through her sophomore year, when she was forced into being the starting point guard, she started to become more of vocal leader. 

“Now when she talks people listen. Because you don’t ever have to question her hustle and she has been through this with us for four years now. She knows what we are trying to do.”

Statistically, the Lady Panthers are led by Jada Summers. The junior is nearly averaging a double-double with just over 20 points per contest and a little over 9 rebounds per game. And the Panthers have another Okenfuss who is another scoring threat, as sister Emilie averages 11 points per game. 

But Leonard mentioned everyone knows how important the Lady Panthers 5-foot-2-inch guard is to the team.

“Dee is the heart and soul of our team,” the Lady Panthers coach stated. “Her effort level on every possession on every night is always there. Without a doubt her best quality is her hustle. And the way she leads by example has transformed her into a true leader on this team.”

The way Okenfuss impacts every game and her approach to not only each game, but also practice, is something Leonard hopes everyone in his program can notice.

“Dee is just a competitor, no matter what she is doing she has one speed,” Leonard said. “She is going to play as hard as she can. That is something I hope all our younger girls see and try and emulate. She is not the biggest, but she plays like she is six feet tall and will run through a wall for the team and do whatever she can to help us win.”

And with Okenfuss leading the way, the Lady Panthers carry an undefeated record into the New Year.