Admirals hold off Frankfort in final tune-up before district play

Published 11:21 pm Tuesday, January 2, 2018

It was cold outside but Danville’s offense started hot against Frankfort on Tuesday.

The Admirals scored 20 points in the first quarter on the way to a 63-58 victory over the visiting Panthers to improve to 5-8 on the season.

Jared Southerland started hot, scoring seven of the Ads’ first 14 points. He finished with a game-high 27 points (9-of-14 shooting) and a team-high seven rebounds.

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“Jared, he’s just good,” Danville head coach Ed McKinney said. “He’s a good player. He makes shots, he drives it. Sometimes he needs just a bit quicker decision-making before the help gets there, but he’s got it all — he shoots the pull-up, he’s good at the rim. I thought we did a good job finding him early, we got him some open shots. And he’s a good free-throw shooter. When you combine all that, it’s good to have him.”

The Ads cooled off in the second quarter, but a strong defensive effort gave them a 32-21 lead at halftime.

But the Panthers found a way through the Danville zone in the third quarter, scoring 19 points to cut the lead to 46-40 after three.

“The defense wasn’t very good in the second half, but we turned it over a lot,” McKinney said. “But when you’re in transition defense, you don’t know if your defense is good or not. (Frankfort) has a couple of nice players. Once they get rolling, they’re gone. Once they got momentum, they’re going to make everything you shoot.”

Danville finished with 14 turnovers, most coming in the second half, but Frankfort started to shoot. Guards Juanya Frank and Cody Carter each were hitting threes that weren’t falling in the first half.

But the Admirals offense kept pace, something that McKinney was proud to see.

“I thought we were relaxed,” McKinney said. “We didn’t tighten up. We tightened up defensively, we started to watch, we didn’t want bad things to happen so we watched. But offensively, Tanner (Ford) hit a big three, (DeShaud St. Martin) had a nice face up, Zach (Thornton) hit one and Jared had a great night.”

In the fourth quarter, Frankfort cut the Admirals lead to one point, 51-50, the closest the game had been since the opening moments. A Frankfort player called out Thornton’s defense, and that ignited the entire Admirals’ team.

“I didn’t see that, but Zach busted one I think,” McKinney said. “Zach fed Shaud when he made that pull-up. It’s good to win those, you’re going to have those every year where a team is going to make a run back at you.”

Thornton would force a turnover, hit a three and assisted St. Martin to give the Admirals a 56-50 lead. Thornton finished with 10 points and a team-high five assists. St. Martin had 11 points on 5-of-8 shooting from the field.

McKinney was happy for his offense to stay on top, but said his team needs to learn when to put its foot down. The Admirals went 1-2 in a tournament in Campbellsville last week, with each game being decided by 10 or fewer points.

“We’ve got to learn, in that tournament we were down 17 and up 17,” McKinney said. “We won the one we were down 17 and we lost the one we were up 17. These games, they’re going to tighten up. We’re all pretty even, it’s just whoever makes plays down the stretch. I think we had a chance, had a moment where we could stretch it to 20 but we kind of cruised. Maybe you get better from these kind of games.”

The Admirals were without freshman big man Ethan Wood, but McKinney was happy with the way St. Martin and Jaleel Warren played inside. McKinney said he wants his team to be dominant on the glass against district opponents.

“I thought Jaleel and Shaud both rebounded hard,” the coach said. “Jaleel gave us some tough minutes. I want us to be tougher on the glass, on both ends. This is a team that could, in our district, we should be able to rebound the ball. And sometimes we stand and watch. We’ve got to be a better offensive rebounding team.”

With a game against Lincoln coming on Friday, McKinney said he’s excited to get back into the gym and practice — the Admirals haven’t had much time alone in the gym with their full complement of players.

“We’re going to get better in practice,” McKinney said. “We’ve practiced two days with everybody in … We need to execute plays better, but you can’t fault the kids for that. We get more practice time, we’re going to get better. We’re still drawing up plays in the sand.”

The Admirals will face a familiar team on Friday in Lincoln County, but the Patriots are a younger team than last year’s district champs.

“They’re young, but they’re well coached,” McKinney said. “(Jeff Jackson) does a great job coaching them. They’re not going to beat themselves. They’re going to be right in the game. This will be a 45th District battle, every possession will matter. We’ll see how it goes.”