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Danville girls basketball off to hot start in 2018-19 season

Danville’s girls basketball team is off to a roaring start.

The Admirals are now 4-0 after a dominant 66-30 victory over Madison Southern (3-2) on Friday in their first home game of the season.

Star senior Ivy Turner scored 19 points to lead Danville, with sophomore Lara Akers next with 18 points. Nine different players scored for the Admirals in the blowout win.

“That’s what we’ve been trying to work on, because I feel like the last couple of years have been the Ivy Turner show,” head coach Judie Mason said. “And Ivy is good, don’t get me wrong, but other people have got to jump on that bandwagon if we’re going to be successful.”

This is the first year of Mason’s second stint with the Admirals — she led Danville to its most recent region championship in 2014 — and she said the team is ready to play “fast and furious.”

“End line to end line, that’s what I told them,” Mason said. “If I’m going to do it, it’s going to be fun. Girls basketball can be boring unless you make it fun. We try to make it fun, get the crowd into it because like I tell them, I don’t want them to play girls basketball. I want them to play basketball. That’s how we practice.”

It showed in the first eight minutes against Madison Southern. The Eagles scored just two points in the first quarter and trailed 38-8 at halftime.

Madison Southern had no answer for the Danville full-court press, and that’s something that we’ll see a lot this year, Mason said.

“I tell them when we get on the bus, we’re thinking about pressing,” she said. “That’s what I did at Somerset, that’s what I did when I first coached. I’ve not been blessed with a lot of big girls, so we have to play that style. But I just think it’s a fun style.”

And the Admirals have the players to fit that style, Mason said. Turner and Akers twins Lara and Jenna are all averaging more than 10 points per game.

“That’s what I tell them, the Akers can score. Madison (Terrell), Desiree Tandy, we’re still young. We’ve still got that excitement,” Mason said. “But if we’re going to be successful and get to the next level where I want us to be when I quit coaching, the others need to be better and help Ivy out. Because if I’m playing (against) Ivy, I’m going to double and triple team her.”

Turner’s senior year will be about developing into even more of a floor general, Mason said.

“Ivy has always had to score, score, score, score. If Ivy is going to play college ball, Ivy has got to be a true point guard,” the coach said. “That’s what we’re really working on, yes I want Ivy to score, but if someone is ahead of her, we’re working on making her a college player and I want her to see the floor. She doesn’t have a single selfish bone in her body so she loves this style of play. That’s what we talk about. The very first game this year, I think she had 12 points on six shots. Last year she had to carry. What I’m trying to get her to do now is be a college point guard. Because I think she can play at the next level.”

The Admirals are more worried about improvement at this stage of the season, but coach Mason said there will be plenty of aggressive games like the one on Friday.

“We just tell them to make chaos,” Mason said. “I tell them, the uglier we can make the game, the better we’ll do. I’m the type of coach, I probably don’t have two plays. A lot of people have play after play after play, and in my opinion, if you can’t pass/dribble/shoot, no play will work. Every day in practice, we do fundamentals and that’s how I want to play. I just want them to get it out and go. We’re getting better at it. It’s hard for them, I‘m not saying any style is the better style, but they’re not used to that fast-paced style. We’re trying every quarter to get better at that style.”

The Admirals will face some stiff tests later this month, starting Monday. Danville will host the back-to-back defending state champion Mercer County Titans on Monday.

“We’re playing the defending state champs. When you’re a state champion, it takes awhile to forget that you’re a state champion,” Mason said. “I don’t care how many players they lost, they’re going to be a good team and they’re going to compete for the region because once you play at that level, you’ll do anything to get back to that level. That’s what I tell them, I’m the only one on the wall out there. I want another picture on that wall. If I’m going to coach and we’re going to play, why not come out and try to be the top dog? We know we’ve got it in for us, but as long as we get better every day, that’s all I care about.”