All-A heartbreak: Danville girls’ rally falls short at the buzzer

Published 5:14 pm Wednesday, January 23, 2019


RICHMOND — Danville’s first round game in the All-A state tournament lived up to the hype.

The Admirals squared up with Murray as two of the top All-A teams in the state on Wednesday afternoon at McBrayer Arena in Richmond, and the two teams provided plenty of thrill.

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In a game that saw nine lead changes and six ties, it was Murray who had the last possession and scored as time expired to win 56-54.

“If there’s a better one than that, I want to see it,” Danville head coach Judie Mason said. “Like I told them, I wouldn’t change anything we did.”

Danville had the opportunity to win the game first with the score tied 54-54, but star guard Ivy Turner couldn’t get through a trap near midcourt and was called for a foul trying to retrieve the ball.

“I want the ball in Ivy’s hands, questionable at the end whether she fouled, I don’t know,” Mason said. “It might’ve been a jump ball. My point was, when she got it ripped from her, the ball landed in that girl’s hands, that’s a foul if Ivy’s was a foul. But I told them, the New Orleans Saints ain’t playing in the Super Bowl either. We had to take care of business.”

With 7.2 seconds left, Murray guard Angela Gierhart drove to the basket and scored as time expired.

“We fought back, we got it where we wanted it, we had the ball. It just didn’t go our way,” Mason said. “Then we have a freshman guarding somebody penetrating and she let her shoot instead of fouling, but that’s a freshman mistake. At the end of the game, I had a freshman, an eighth grader, two sophomores on the floor with a senior that’s pretty daggone good.”

Danville started the game stone cold from the field — the Admirals were 3-for-12 from three-point range in the first half, with freshman Tyliah Bradshaw connecting on all three — but led 13-12 after one quarter.

With three minutes to play in the first half, Danville led 23-20 before Murray scored the last eight points of the first half.

That pace was perfect for Murray head coach Wyatt Foust, who was impressed with Danville’s fast-break offense.

“I don’t know what the final score was, but the plan going in was, ‘if this thing is in the 40s or 50s, we have a chance,’” he said. “If it gets in the 60s, God forbid it gets to the 70s with this team, we’re in big trouble. Because I’m telling you, their transition game is as good as I’ve seen. There’s a reason they’ve beaten George Rogers Clark and some elite teams from around the state. Their transition game, on a miss or a make, is just phenomenal.

“Turner puts such pressure on you to get back and get back for a full game, on this court, with limited subs, golly it makes it tough. The kids committed to the transition game … It was the No. 1 thing for us, transition.”

Murray doubled its lead midway through the third quarter and led 42-31 with 3:45 left in the third, then Danville switch to a full court man-to-man defense.

“I didn’t think we could do it the whole game because they’ve got a good coach and I knew they’d pick us apart,” Mason said. “I felt like if we could keep it close till the middle of the third quarter, we could go man to man. I just didn’t think we could play man-to-man for 32 minutes. That’s a pretty good team.”

Foust said their defensive strategy was simple: Contain Ivy Turner and faceguard Lara Akers all over the court.

“Lara is a really good shooter, so we just said that we cannot let her shoot. We just glued somebody to her and said, ‘hey, you’ve got one job. Don’t let her get loose in transition and don’t let her shoot.’ That was good, we needed that because Akers can shoot the lights out.

“Then we said, let’s take Ivy away as much as possible. And you’re not gonna. You’re not going to take her away, she’s too good. But let’s take her away as much as possible. In the first half I thought we did a great job, you’re just not going to hold her for a full game. She got loose and carved us up a few times, then (Bradshaw) made some big shots for them. The gameplan coming in was we’re not going to guard (Jenna) Akers, and I thought if she makes the first two, we’re screwed. Let’s just be honest. She came out, missed the first one, then the second one she missed but looked better. I was just like, ‘please God no.’ She never got in a rhythm of the game, and that allowed us to constantly double Ivy and make life difficult for her, maker her earn it like crazy.”

Turner scored 16 of her game-high 21 points in the second half and Bradshaw finished with 17 points after leading Danville with 13 points at halftime. Desiree Tandy scored eight points, Jenna Akers added four points and Ahyana Burnett had four points. Lara Akers, Danville’s second-leading scorer this season, attempted just one shot in 26 minutes.

“We knew they were going to faceguard Lara and Ivy, we had enough film on them, we knew that,” Mason said. “The difference is that no one is going to stop Ivy from getting the ball. She’s going to get the ball. But Lara, she stood a lot, but we’ll work on that. She’s going to get chased and she’s put herself in a position to get chased because she’s a pretty good shooter. I feel like tonight was how most teams are going to play us.

“Tyliah stepped up. I told them before the game, I needed three scorers and we just had two. I think if we had one more scorer we could’ve outscored ’em because they don’t average as many points. I felt like if we could get them in a running game in the fourth quarter, and we did, they just got the last possession and beat us.”

Danville rose to the occasion in the fourth quarter to take a 54-51 lead. A three from Elizabeth Curtis tied the game at 54-54.

“We’re not finished, that’s the beauty of being an All-A school,” Mason said. “That’s probably the hardest team we’ve played all year and we competed and we had a chance to win.

“This adds fuel for me, because you’re in a big atmosphere, you get another chance. That’s the beauty of the All-A, and that’s why other schools don’t like the All-A unless they’re in it. Because I think it does give the All-A schools an advantage, playing on a big floor, playing with this atmosphere, the media. I feel like this game will prepare us for the district and postseason more than any game we’ve played all year.”


Box score


At EKU’s McBrayer Arena


MURRAY 12 16 19 9 56

DANVILLE 13 10 17 14 54



MURRAY (18-2): Angela Gierhart 19, Elizabeth Curtis 12, Parker Greer 12, Calli Carver 10, Makenzie Turley 3.

DANVILLE (16-4): Ivy Turner 21, Tyliah Bradshaw 17, Desiree Tandy 8, Jenna Akers 4, Ahyana Burnett 4.



MURRAY: Greer 12, Carver 8, Gierhart 4, Turley 3, Curtis 1.

DANVILLE: Turner 8, Jenna Akers 4, Burnett 2, Lara Akers 1, Madison Terrell 1, Bradshaw 1.



MURRAY: Turley 8, Carver 4, Gierhart 4, Greer 3.

DANVILLE: Turner 7, Burnett 2, Bradshaw 2, Jenna Akers 1, Lara Akers 1.