Prep Basketball: McPherson's 27 leads Danville girls over Garrard
Cameron McPherson of Danville launches an off-balance shot over Garrard County defender Autumn Murray during the third quarter of Danville¿s 64-56 victory Friday. McPherson scored 27 points to lead the Admirals, who broke a four-game losing streak. (Mike Marsee / January 13, 2013)
Ten days after Walker missed two free throws that might have given the Danville girls a win over Lincoln County, she made the shots her teammates couldn’t convert to give the Admirals a district win they badly needed.
The eighth-grader went 7 for 8 at the foul line in the final 99 seconds Friday night to clinch the Admirals’ 64-56 victory over Garrard County in a battle between two teams looking for their first 45th District win.
Cameron McPherson scored a career-high 27 points to help Danville hold off Garrard, and Walker sank the clinching free throws to bring an end to its four-game losing streak.
On Jan. 1, Walker missed two free throws with 3.7 seconds left in double overtime that would have given the Admirals a one-point lead over Lincoln in a game they lost 72-69. Then she went to work in practice to make sure that wouldn’t happen again.
“It made me concentrate more on my free throws. The main thing I did was free throws,” Walker said. “I didn’t want to be in that situation again.”
Danville coach Judie Mason said she had no qualms about having Walker on the line in that situation or this one.
“I told her that night, ‘You won’t miss another one at the end of the game.’ I meant that. I have that much faith in her,” Mason said. “She’s the one I really wanted on the line. I don’t care what grade she’s in.”
Walker’s teammates were 9 for 19 at the free-throw line Friday, and Mason put her in position to handle the ball in the backcourt for Danville (9-6, 1-2 district) late in the game.
Garrard (9-4, 0-3) pulled within 59-56 with 44 seconds remaining on a basket by Devin Conley, who scored a game-high 28 points, and the Golden Lions had a chance to pull within one point or tie the game after Danville’s Essence Grey hit one of two foul shots at :40.
But Walker hit two free throws after a Garrard turnover and two more after a charging foul to push the margin from four points to eight with 21 seconds to play, and the Lions were finished.
Mason said her team needed the win, its first since an upset of Sacred Heart on Dec. 27, but she said it didn’t signal an end to the Admirals’ slump.
“We’ve just got to fight through this slump. Everybody knows we’re in a slump, and we look horrible right now. Like I told them, there’s no magic pill to overcome a slump. We’ve just got to fight,” Mason said.
Walker said this win would give the Admirals strength for the fight ahead.
“It helps us build a whole lot more confidence,” she said.
Danville opened a 16-8 lead in the first 6 minutes, only to see Garrard pull within 23-22 with an 8-1 run in the second quarter and stay within reach for the rest of the night.
The Lions tied the score twice in the second quarter and once in the third before finally taking a 45-44 lead with 1:02 left in the third period on a Kelly Smith basket.
They led for all of 12 seconds before McPherson and Gray got back-to-back layups in transition for Danville, and they never got back in front. Garrard coach Scott Bolin said it was a perfect example of the problems Garrard can have when a faster team like Danville can control the tempo.
“That one time we got the lead, we had it for a second and a half. That’s something we were concerned with, and that’s the reason why. We didn’t control that tempo right there, and it’s gone before you know it,” Bolin said.
McPherson was 3 for 5 from 3-point range and 11 for 17 overall from the field for Danville; Conley was 2 for 4 from long range and 16 for 22 overall for Garrard.
Danville had an edge on the boards, outrebounding bigger Garrard 35-29. Grey had eight rebounds for the Admirals; Victoria Floyd had 10 for the Lions.
“They’re a veteran team and they do a lot of good stuff, and I thought our kids battled really hard. We made a lot of mental mistakes, but it wasn’t because of a lack of effort,” Bolin said. “We were in the right spots, we missed some shots down the stretch, missed some assignments. But hats off to Danville; they played very well, and we played well at times. We’re a nice team, but we haven’t put it together yet, and I thought tonight we were closer, but it’s all about February. If we continue to improve, I’ll be OK with it.”
Meanwhile, Mason would like to see her team snap out of its slump this week in the 12th Region All “A” Classic.
“We absolutely needed to win this before going into the All ‘A.’ Our slump last year happened during the week of All ‘A.’ It happened just a little later, and I’d rather it happen early than later on,” she said. “We’re still not playing very good, but we’re going to fight to play good.”
Garrard County 12 30 45 56
Danville 17 31 48 64
GARRARD (9-4) — Victoria Floyd 4, Ryan Cain 2, Kelly Smith 8, Autumn Murray 10, Devin Conley 28.
DANVILLE (9-6) — Laken Grey 5, Kasey Young 9, Jordan Leavell 4, Cameron McPherson 27, Essence Grey 12, Alyvia Walker 7.