Prep Basketball: Gateskill-Fuqua powers Danville boys' rally for 57-51 win over Boyle
Damir Karapandzic, left, and Christian Gateskill-Fuqua of Danville smile during the fourth quarter of the Admirals' 57-51 victory over Boyle County on Friday. (Clay Jackson / February 2, 2013)
There’s always something at stake when these rivals face off, and that was evident again Friday night when the Admirals pushed past the Rebels in the fourth quarter for a 57-51 victory.
They weren’t jockeying for position in the district standings, but they played as if everything was on the line as they battled before a near-capacity crowd at Danville.
“It’s never meaningless,” Danville guard Christian Gateskill-Fuqua said. “Doesn’t matter if both teams are undefeated or both teams haven’t won a game, it means the same amount every year. It’s a huge game.”
Yet this game was about more than merely beating the team on the other side of town. The Admirals are trying to recover from a rough start and generate some momentum for the coming postseason, and coach Andrew Zaheri said this game was an important step forward.
“We’re pretty sure about the seeding position and who we’re going to play in the first round of the district (tournament), but at the same time I think the boys are really starting to buy in, and a win is what we really needed,” Zaheri said. “We took the challenge of being the only team in the district to beat Boyle County in the regular season, so to us it was a very important game.
“We just want to do everything in our power to try to get this going in the right direction for the postseason.”
Gateskill-Fuqua scored a career-high 29 points to lead Danville (8-13, 3-2 45th District) to its second district win in four days. He got 15 of those points in the fourth quarter, including seven during a 12-2 run that put the Admirals in control.
Boyle (13-8, 5-1), which beat Danville 57-50 on Jan. 8, led the rematch by eight points once in each of the first three periods but couldn’t stretch that lead, leaving the door open for the Admirals, who scored 27 points in the fourth quarter.
“I think we just we didn’t want to lose to Boyle County,” Gateskill-Fuqua said. “We just dug down, and we knew we were going to have chances to win the game, and when they presented themselves, we were going to take them, and I think we did that.”
The Admirals scored the last four points of the third quarter and the first four points of the fourth to turn a 32-26 deficit into a 34-32 lead. They took the lead for good when they went up 38-37 with 5:49 remaining on a coast-to-coast layup by Gateskill-Fuqua.
Gateskill-Fuqua scored his team’s first eight points and 13 of their first 16 in the final period, most of them either in transition or on drives through the lane.
“When Christian is focused, I think a lot of people have a hard time keeping him out of the lane. He’s got a really quick first step,” Zaheri said. “Sometimes in the games in the past, I think Christian stopped himself and settled for a jump shot, but when he’s getting to the rim and finding people and they converge over, that’s our best basketball.”
Gateskill-Fuqua said he wasn’t the only one trying to get to the rim.
“With the type of team they have and the type of team we have, I think our biggest advantage in this game is the transition game with our athletes. So every time we had numbers up we were looking to run, and luckily everybody was finishing at the rim,” he said.
Danville went 9 for 12 from the field and 14 for 22 in the second half to finish at 43 percent, while Boyle shot just 34 percent.
“We played soft. We played scared,” Boyle coach Steve Adams said. “We got the ball in positions to score and don’t even look at the basket, and we absolutely guarded nobody. We just got whipped.”
Adams wasn’t just talking about the fourth quarter.
“The whole game,” he said. “We had chances there early, but we don’t make free throws, we don’t rebound, we don’t guard, we don’t put the ball in the basket. We did absolutely nothing.”