STANFORD — Not everything about the game pleased here, but Lincoln County coach Cassandra McWhorter liked what mattered most.
“I told my team to do the bad things we did and keep battling and come back and win against a good team like this shows me a lot,” said McWhorter after her team outlasted Danville 72-69 in double overtime. “We had won the championship game in overtime by one point in Florida against a team from Virginia that had not been beat and then went to Disney World and didn’t finally get home to about 1:30 (p.m.) yesterday. I¿knew we might be a little sluggish early, but to battle and win like this is incredible.”
That’s because three different times it looked like the Admirals were going to start 45th District play by knocking off Lincoln, the defending 12th Region champion and favorite to repeat.
• Lincoln trailed 53-51 in overtime when it took a timeout with 4.5 seconds to play after Clara Saylor recovered a loose ball after a near Danville steal. Danville had a foul to give without putting Lincoln at the foul line, but the Patriots got the ball to Emily Fox — who hit a 3-pointer with 22 seconds left to trim the lead to 52-51 — and she worked her way along the baseline to score just before the buzzer.
“I wasn’t thinking about it, but looking back now maybe I would have thought they would foul to stop the clock,” McWhorter said.
Danville was supposed to foul.
“We had four players that knew that and the one who didn’t remember was the one who was guarding Fox,” Danville coach Judie Mason said.
• In overtime, Danville had a 64-61 lead with 10.4 seconds left after Kasey Young hit the first of two free throws. Lincoln called timeout with 3.4 seconds left and McWhorter inserted sophomore Spencer Sims and freshman Cristin Hall in the game.
“They can both hit 3-pointers and they can both hit free throws,” McWhorter said.
Fox inbounded the ball and there was a play to get it back to her. However, Hall realized she was covered and found Sims open in the corner. She launched a 3-point bomb — her first shot of the game — that hit nothing but net to tie the game.
“As a former point guard, I loved the assist but that’s a shot she’ll remember the rest of her life,” McWhorter said.
Mason might, too.
“I told our girls not to let them catch the ball outside the 3-point line. Let them drive and score,” Mason said. “I didn’t want to foul because I thought they might jump into us or something. It was a lucky shot, but we let her get the ball and take it.”
• In the second overtime, Lincoln had a 69-64 lead with 51.3 seconds left after Sydney Harris hit four straight free throws and Fox made one. But Danville wouldn’t fold and got a basket off a steal by Kasey Young and another Young goal inside after one free throw by Harris to cut the lead to 70-69 with 6.5 seconds left.
Lincoln could have basically let time run out since Danville was out of timeouts, but the Patriots threw the ball inbounds and Danville eighth-grader Alyvia Walker knocked the ball loose and was fouled with 3.7 seconds left. Danville was in the double bonus, but Walker — Danville’s second best free throw shooter — missed both shots. Chansler Gilbert added two free throws to ice the win for Lincoln.
“I felt great to have her on the line. She’s not an eighth-grader with as much as she has played for me,” Mason said. “She wasn’t intimidated. She just missed the shots.”
That was part of a painful process for Danville. The Admirals were just 18 of 36 at the foul line as Young went 8-for-14 and Essence Grey 7-for-16. Young led Danville with 31 points on 11-for-28 shooting from the field and eight rebounds and Grey had 14 points and seven boards. Danville was 24 of 72 from the field.
“We had our best shooters in position to make shots for us to win,”Mason said. “I can’t complain about anything we did except for those two shots (to extend the game). I feel like we won the game three times.”
Harris matched Young with 31 points and also had seven rebounds and two blocks. Harris was 12 of 21 from the field, including 0-for-4 from 3-pont range. Fox, who had a team-high eight rebounds, had 18 points on 5-for-9 shooting from the field and 6-for-8 at the foul line.
Lincoln won the rebounding battle 43-28 as Rachel Spangler and Kourtney Belcher both also had seven rebounds. Spangler also led the team with three assists.