Admirals bounce back, earn win over West Jessamine in region quarterfinals

Published 11:22 pm Monday, February 25, 2019

STANFORD — Just 72 hours removed from losing a one-point heartbreaker in the 45th District championship, Danville bounced back.

The Admirals fought back to earn a 57-54 victory against West Jessamine in the first round of the 12th Region tournament at Lincoln County. It’s the 28th win of the season for Danville and the first time the Admirals will play in the region semifinals since 2005.

We knew it was going to be a tough game, West Jessamine’s a good team,” Danville senior Zach Thornton said. “We just had to come out and play hard. I think the team felt good coming into this game. We just had to put our mind to it, work hard.”

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The game was back-and-forth for the entire 32 minutes — there were 10 lead changes and 13 ties. West Jessamine held the lead at the end of every quarter but the fourth.

Danville would open the fourth quarter on a 13-2 run to take its largest lead of the game, 52-47, with three minutes remaining.

But West Jessamine senior Dalton Bruner kept things interesting. After cutting the Admirals’ lead to three, Bruner made a steal and finished at the end to cut the lead to one.

The Admirals would make the front end of one-and-one opportunities: First by Darrian Bell, then by Trey Dawson, to take a 54-51 lead with under a minute to play.

Bruner would hit a deep three to tie the game with 17.6 seconds to play.

Dawson would find Thornton with a no-look pass under the basket and the Admirals took a 56-54 lead.

“I was just trying to find the open man before I traveled,” Dawson said. “Then he yelled for it, I saw him and just threw it. Thank God he caught it.”

Bruner would be fouled at the other end with his foot on the three-point line: He missed the first free throw and intentionally missed the second. Thornton recovered the rebound and hit a free throw at the other end to secure Danville’s win.

“We’ve been in close games, close situations this year. We just keep going,” Thornton said.

It was slow going for both teams early on, similar to the Admirals’ game against Lincoln County on Friday.

Bruner kept Danville’s offense on its toes and defense off-balance throughout the game. His activity on the defensive side of the ball prevented what Danville wanted to do early on: Get the ball down low.

“We just couldn’t hit a shot early,” Danville head coach Ed McKinney said. “We wanted to try to throw it inside but with Bruner, he’s just doubling the post from everywhere. He’s so active defensively, if you throw it in there and you don’t make a quick post move, he’s going to get it.”

Bruner had three steals in the first half and had six rebounds, a game high at the break.

“We wanted to play inside-out in the first half, it seemed like we weren’t getting great shots,” McKinney said. “We could be more patient but you risk turning it over if you get too patient. We can get offensive rebounds, so you don’t want to be too patient and steal it. We’d rather get it on the glass. We were lucky to be down three at half, I thought our defense was pretty good.”

Danville went with a 2-3 zone for the first time this season, primarily to contain Bruner. He finished with a game-high 24 points on 9-of-20 shooting. He also had nine rebounds, seven assists and five steals for the Colts.

Thornton led Danville with 21 points and added nine rebounds. DeShaud St. Martin led Danville with 10 points and four assists and two points. Dawson scored eight points off of the bench for Danville; Dante Hayden scored 11 points and was 3-for-6 from beyond the arc.

The biggest difference from Monday’s region contest and Friday’s district championship? The Admirals made more plays down the stretch.

“We made some good plays down the stretch, looking to score and not just hold on to it,” McKinney said. “But they got it some too, it was risk/reward. When we made the play facing the basket, we got some good stuff. We made some free throws, that was big.”

Danville finished 10-of-14 from the foul line compared to West’s 8-of-16 mark.

“We had to come back with confidence, bouncing back from the Lincoln County game,” Dawson said. “We know that we shouldn’t be beaten by any team in this region. We had to learn from our mistakes we made in the Lincoln County game, work off of those.”

Danville will play Pulaski County in the 12th Region semifinals on Friday at 6:30 p.m. Pulaski County defeated McCreary Central 60-38 in the second game of Monday night’s doubleheader.


Box score


12th Region quarterfinals at Lincoln County


DANVILLE 9 10 19 19 57

WEST JESSAMINE 11 11 22 10 54




DANVILLE (28-5): Zach Thornton 21, Dante Hayden 11, Trey Dawson 8, Darrian Bell 8, Ethan Wood 4, Caden Hill 3, DeShaud St. Martin 2.

WEST JESSAMINE (16-13): Dalton Bruner 24, Braeden Fomas 10, DeAjuan Stepp 8, Clayton Winter 4, Jackson Green 3, Michael Thalacker 3, Nate Breeden 2.