In a 41-point turnaround from Jan. 8, the Danville boys erased the memory of a 72-40 blowout loss to Lincoln County. The Admirals healed themselves Friday night by defeating the Patriots 63-54 in a 45th District rematch at Danville.
Leading the Admirals’ about-face was sophomore forward Cody Wooldridge, who had 23 points after scoring only two in the first game. Jawan Grey finished with 14 points and Alex Burnside had 12 points.
Danville coach Andrew Zaheri said not dwelling on the 32-point loss or any other loss to Lincoln was key in the victory, especially with leading scorer Christian Gateskill-Fuqua out with an ankle injury.
“Lincoln County has beaten us the last four times they’ve played us, including last year’s tournament, so I think we’ve been sort of shell-shocked. I think Lincoln County has had a mental edge on us,” he said.
“Tonight, though, I thought the effort was good. We played with a lot of energy and a lot of intensity right from the start .”
Danville (10-14, 4-2 45th District) shot a blistering 70 percent (21-for-30) from the field and 71 percent (20-for-28) at the foul line in its fourth straight win, exploding out to a 10-1 lead in the first quarter.
Lincoln, unable to generate a consistent flow of offense, could not battle back from the early deficit. The Patriots (13-15, 3-3) shot just 38 percent (20-for-52) from the field overall, 18 percent (4-for-22) from 3-point range. They shot 56 percent (10-for-18) at the line.
“They came ready to play,” Lincoln coach Jeff Jackson said of Danville. “They played with a sense of purpose. They played with a sense of urgency. We tried to tell our kids that they are playing with a lot of confidence, and they’re playing really well. They came out and smacked us in the mouth early and we didn’t respond very well to that.”
Zaheri said a change in the Admirals’ game plan since the teams first clashed helped them deny the Lincoln offense.
“We played a lot of man-to-man the first time we played Lincoln County, and that’s just not our strength,” he said. “Of course, I was a little worried with how well they shoot the ball, but I think our bread-and-butter is a zone and different types of zones, so we went with that tonight.
“I thought our guys did a pretty good job of getting to them, but there were times when they missed some shots tonight that coach Jackson’s boys normally knock down. We got lucky in the sense that we caught Lincoln on a bad shooting night.”
Danville’s luck started early with Lincoln missing five field goal attempts before getting a shot to fall. Meanwhile, the Admirals were lighting up the scoreboard. The two teams traded a missed bucket and a turnover apiece before Grey banked in the game-opener to set off a 10-1 run. He then hit with a jumper, Jakobi Turner scored on a layup, Wooldridge got his first bucket and Burnside drove inside for a layup.
Lincoln’s Jacob Conway, who had a game-high 24 points and four steals, closed the first quarter scoring by collecting a bucket and a three-point play to get the Patriots within 12-9. The Patriots got no closer than that, with Burnside hitting back-to-back buckets to open the second quarter and extend the Admiral lead to 16-9.
Danville went 7-for-13 from the field in the second quarter. Burnside scored eight of his 12 points in the period as Danville stretched its lead to nine. Wooldridge added two buckets in the frame, including a dramatic tipin after a Burnside miss, and Turner got one goal to make it 26-17 at the half.
Hill, who had 12 points for Lincoln, scored twice off Timmy Taylor assists and Taylor scored on a layup to make it 28-23. But the Admirals set sail on a 9-0 run. Grey hit a 3-pointer and added two free throws.
Wooldridge, who was 6-for-6 from the field and 11-for-15 at the line with 17 second-half points, converted on a three-point play as Danville went up 37-23.
“Cody poses a lot of problems for other teams with his athleticism,” Zaheri said. “He’s big enough to where its hard for a guard to guard him, and he’s quick enough and has enough handles where he can get by big.”
The Admirals kept the margin at nine or better the rest of the way.
“Danville came ready to play and we didn’t. They were the better basketball team tonight,” Jackson said. “We didn’t play well. We got off to a terrible start and it snowballed all the way to the end. For whatever reason, I did not have our kids focused and ready to play the game tonight.”
Danville owned the boards, outrebounding Lincoln 27-17. Damir Karapandzic grabbed seven boards for the Admirals, Wooldridge got six and Burnside had five. Hill led Lincoln with six rebounds.
Lincoln County 9 17 30 54
Danville 12 26 41 63
LINCOLN (13-15, 3-3) — Timmy Taylor 8, Brandon Pittman 4, Neil Conley 3, Dalton Godbey 3, Jacob Conway 24, Luke Hill 12.
DANVILLE (10-13, 4-2) — Jawan Grey 14, Cody Wooldridge 23, Jakobi Turner 6, Damir Karapandzic 4, Kyle Lange 4, Alex Burnside 12.