Turner time: Danville senior stepping up for Admirals

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Ivy Turner has been a part of the Danville basketball program since the first grade.

Turner was a part of the ‘Little Ads’ program during head coach Judie Mason’s first stint with the team, more than a decade ago.

She’s always played up — she was a fifth grader playing on the sixth and seventh grade teams, and as an eighth grader, averaged 9.1 points per game for the varsity — and that’s why Mason knows she can play at the next level.

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“I think she’s a Division 1 player. I’ve always said that,” Mason said. “We’ve had a lot of colleges come here and even JUCO colleges want her to go that path. I think over the next few weeks the doors are going to open for her, because she can fly.

“Her biggest problem is her height, but she’s my leading rebounder. She’s averaging 9.4 rebounds per game. She can be that, I’m not sure there’s many point guards better than her. We’re just going to keep working, keep all the doors open and I think she’s going to go where she wants to go.”

Now a senior, Turner’s scored nearly 2,000 points for her varsity career and has helped the Admirals to a 7-2 record to open her senior season. She’s been selected to the Kentucky/Ohio All-Star team, representing the best seniors in the state. She’s third in the state at 25.6 points per game.

The best win of the young season might be a 72-62 victory over top-10 George Rogers Clark, where Turner scored 41 points.

That victory showed Mason that she needs different players to step up — in scoring and handling the ball. The next game, Turner played more off of the ball, with Ahyana Burnett and Tyliah Bradshaw sharing point guard duties.

“It takes the ball out of her hand all the time. Ivy’s going to have two and three people on her at all times,” Mason said. “Against George Rogers Clark, I realized I have to move her around because she got beat to death. I can’t have her beat to death all year.

“Ahyana and them have got to be better on the ball to put her in that position. Ivy can shoot the ball on the outside. She doesn’t shoot a lot but she’s as good of a shooter that I’ve got. Once she gets confidence in her shot, it’s going to make us a better team. She’s my best defensive player too. I think it’s going to give her more energy at the end of the game, not having to be the point guard all the time.”

Danville beat Hopkins County Central in the next game, 70-33. Lara Akers scored a game-high 24 points. Turner said that if she’s not the one scoring, she’s setting up open teammates.

“We’ve got some knock-down shooters on the team,” Turner said. “All of them can shoot — Lara, Jenna (Akers), Ty, Ahyana, all of them. If they’re hitting, I want to get them the ball. That’s what we want to do.”

Mason has upped the pace of the Admirals this season, and she’s asked Turner to send the ball forward in transition more often.

“That’s really where we get our easy points because we’re really getting out and running,” Turner said. “I can hit anybody that’s running out, so that I think will really help us a lot. Of course my teammates have been getting out and hitting shots, that’s easy buckets.”

As for playing off of the ball, Turner said she’s willing to do whatever helps the team.

“I like playing them, that’s my role so I’ve got to do whatever coach asks me to do,” she said. “Whether that’s scoring, playing defense, not scoring, really whatever coach asks me, I just do it.”

Come crunch time, though, the ball will be in Turner’s hands. That was evident against GRC.

“She was absolutely ready to play,” Mason said. “She plays AAU against (GRC’s players). She was the only one that wasn’t scared and that’s why she had to score 41 points for us to do well. The others are thinking, ‘oh my God, I’m playing the No. 5 team in the state.’ She doesn’t have that, she’s played so long. She doesn’t care who we play.

“You can tell when we play weaker teams, Ivy gives the ball up a whole lot. She’s so unselfish. Then when she has to do it, she can do it. Essence Grey was that player for me. When I tell Ivy to go get a basket, she’ll go get a basket.”

Mason said she’s seen her star senior take another step forward as a leader in her final high-school year.

“We had that talk and she said that she hasn’t really ever had to be a leader,” Mason said. “I told her, you have to be a leader. I start four sophomores, and my two coming off of the bench are two freshmen and an eighth-grader. She has to lead, and that’s not her style. She leads by example. But I’ve noticed her more now because I told them we’d run if they don’t communicate. These kids look up to her so much, if she tells them to do something, they will try their best to do it.”

The team has worked on communication, and it’s something that Turner said will improve as the year goes on.

“We just want to play hard, really,” she said. “Play as a team and make sure we’re communicating because we’re not too good at that right now. We get tired. But do that, finish, play as a team, that’s the main thing right now.”