Prep Basketball: Grown-up Boyle girls oust Danville 70-68 in 45th District semifinal
Boyle County players celebrate following their 70-68 victory over Danville on Wednesday in a 45th District Tournament semifinal at Boyle. The Rebels reached the district finals and earned a regional tournament berth for the first time since 2009. (Clay Jackson / January 23, 2013)
There have been indications throughout the winter that the Rebels have been growing up, including a win over Danville in their first meeting of the season.
But when they defeated the Admirals again Wednesday night, fighting them off for a 70-68 victory in a 45th District Tournament semifinal at Rebel Arena, they knew they had done something a little more significant.
“It’s a very big deal because it’s districts,” Boyle forward Dee Foster said. “We played them at their house and they beat us, but they came over here and we brought the momentum and heart. We were pumped up.”
Boyle (17-12) held fast when Danville (18-10) tried to complete its comeback from an 11-point second-half deficit, stopping the Admirals six times in the final 2 minutes, 15 seconds when they had a chance to tie or take the lead for a victory that coach Greg Edwards said represents a milestone in the Rebels’ maturation.
“It’s just another step in the right direction for where we’re headed. We started off this year and won a couple district games, which is the first time they’d done that since the seniors had been here, and the fact that they did it in the district even makes it more impressive with where we are at this point,” Edwards said.
By making key defensive stops, by controlling the boards at critical times and by overcoming their own high turnover total, the Rebels won a game that some of them said they couldn’t have finished off a year ago.
“Definitely not. We’ve become more of a team this year,” forward Kalin Bottoms said. “It’s a huge win for us, especially since we haven’t been to regions in so long.”
It has been four seasons since the Rebels have played for a district championship and earned a spot in the 12th Region Tournament. They’ll face five-time defending champion Lincoln County for the title on Friday, and they’ll play in the regional next week at Pulaski County.
Marlee Smith scored 19 points to lead No. 3 seed Boyle to its second win in three games this season over an archrival that had beaten it five straight times. The Rebels snapped that losing streak with a 52-49 win last month, lost 70-44 to Danville on Feb. 1, then won the rubber match with elimination on the line.
The Rebels won despite committing five of their 25 turnovers in the final 2:15, including three in a 36-second span, and in part because the Admirals made one critical turnover after that.
Boyle was clinging to a 69-67 lead after three straight turnovers and a missed free throw with 20 seconds left, and Danville’s Essence Grey was driving for an attempt that might have tied the game.
But Boyle’s Allison Hall, who had missed the free throw only seconds earlier, tipped the ball away from Grey and toward teammate Hannah Harris, who drew a foul and hit one of two free throws to make it a three-point game.
Then it was left to the Rebels to stop a 3-point attempt by Casey Young, who drew two defenders when she moved to the perimeter to take the pass.
“That wasn’t really the initial plan. The initial plan was to not let her have it, but we just did what our instincts told us,” Bottoms said.
Danville’s Laken Grey was fouled on an offensive rebound with half a second left, and she made her first free throw but was called for a lane violation on the second attempt when she tried to miss intentionally and go after the rebound.
Danville coach Judie Mason said she thought the whistle should have sounded a few more times as the Admirals tried to cash in on Boyle’s late turnovers.
“I thought we got fouled. I though we stole the ball and took it to the basket three times and got fouled and didn’t get the call,” Mason said. “I didn’t like the way the game was called from the beginning to the end. I felt like my kids got taken out of the game, and it took us out of the flow. Give credit to Boyle County, they played well, but I’ll have to watch the game film.”
Essence Grey scored 32 points to lead No. 2 seed Danville, including 15 in the second quarter and 11 in the fourth. Young, the Admirals’ leading scorer, was held to 11 points on 2-of-13 shooting from the field.