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Admirals finally crack win column

LANCASTER — With the combination of experience lost from last season and football players late in joining the fold, Danville boys basketball coach Ed McKinney knew the Admirals would get off to a slow start this season.

He probably didn’t imagine it would take the Ads six games to post their first win, but Saturday’s 67-49 win over Estill County in the Ellerman Contracting Holiday Classic at Garrard County was exactly that — win no. 1.

The Ads are now 1-5, but they certainly didn’t play like a winless team in Saturday’s game. Nine players saw court time for Danville, and seven players scored, led by Jared Southerland’s 19 points.

“When the ball goes in the basket, everything looks better,” McKinney said. “‘Hey coach, your shot selection was good, your ball movement was good, you’re executing.’ When you miss, that causes everything to look bad.

“Here’s the deal, we’ve got one guy with varsity experience (Southerland), so we don’t know how to win. We’ve got to learn when those plays are important. There are a few plays like that a game. We’ve got to learn to make eight or 10 of those plays a game you’ve got to have.”

Tanner Ford added 13 points, 11 coming in the first half, and Deshaud St. Martin continued to improve, scoring eight of his 15 points after halftime.

And whether on offense or defense, McKinney rattled off numerous names who contributed to the win.

“Zach Thornton, we’ve always projected he would be pretty good. David Walker, before he was hurt and sat out all last year, we projected he was going to be pretty good,” McKinney said. “Ellison came in and gave us good minutes. Tanner Kavanaugh was good defensively, he pressured, got us turnovers. We’ve got good pieces.”

McKinney mentioned his 2001 team that went to the region final; the five starters were all football players who came to the basketball season late after winning the state title. The biggest difference in McKinney’s mind is how long he had those players — he could call out a play and know it would get ran — as opposed to this year’s squad, which is trying to learn situational basketball on the fly. Six of the nine players in Saturday’s game are football players who’ve had limited practice time.

“It’s a lot tougher for (the football players) than it is for us because we’ve had a few more weeks of practice,” senior Conner Hopkins said. “It’s hard for them to get their hands ready, fighting for loose balls and stuff like that, but they’re doing pretty well just getting back into it.

“From here on out, the next couple of games will be a lot smoother.”

The win came about 15 hours after the Ads left the court in their previous game, a home loss to Wayne County. According to Hopkins, it was an odd start time but the team adjusted well.

In Saturday’s win, this team showed it’s on the right path. After going up 12-4 late in the first quarter, the Ads handed over the lead to the Engineers with a 14-0 run through the beginning of the second quarter.

Unlike in previous games this season, the Ads responded, going on a 12-0 run to retake a 23-18 lead. St. Martin had five points in the run and Southerland added four.

Two buckets from Ellison Stanfield kept the Ads ahead, and Ford gave them a 32-24 edge at halftime with a deep 3-pointer at the buzzer.

Estill’s Caleb Bonny scored nine of his game-high 22 points in the third quarter, routinely driving past his defender and finding open space inside, taking a 12-point Danville lead down to five at 45-40 entering the fourth quarter.

Quick field goals from Southerland, Ford and St. Martin pushed the lead back to 51-40 early in the fourth, and while the Engineers closed to within eight points, the Ads showed patience and a glimmer of maturity in settling down and keeping Estill (5-2) at bay with a 22-9 scoring edge in the quarter. Southerland had six points in the fourth and Thornton added five of his seven.

“Eight- or 10-point cushion gives you confidence and you make the plays you’re supposed to,” McKinney said.

The Ads win moved them into the tournament semifinals, where they’ll face Somerset at 5 p.m. today. The Briar Jumpers (2-5) beat Bell County 59-43 in Saturday’s second game. Estill defeated Somerset 52-47 to open the season.

Follow Jeremy Schneider on Twitter @jschneideramn

ESTILL CO. 10 14 16 9 — 49

DANVILLE 12 20 13 22 — 67

ESTILL CO. (5-2) — Caleb Bonny 22, Trey Richardson 5, Luke Barnett 6, Andrew Doty 10, Hunter Osborne 2, Kevin Richardson 2, Lane Doty 2.

DANVILLE (1-5) — David Walker 5, Jared Southerland 19, Ellison Stanfield 6, Deshaud St. Martin 15, Tanner Ford 13, Zach Thornton 7, Jaleel Warren 2.

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