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Shorthanded Ads take down Boyle

The theme of this year for Danville’s girls basketball team, coach Judie Mason said at the beginning of the year, was learning to play without last year’s superstar Ivy Turner. In Tuesday’s 50-38 win over crosstown rival Boyle County, the Ads had to learn to play without leading scorer Lara Akers and leading rebounder Cam Preston.

They did.

“I told the kids that’s two of our top three scores and Cam is our leading rebounder,” Mason said. “So I’m losing 23 points and 13 rebounds tonight. I told the other kids that they’re going to have to fight.

“I told them before the game that we weren’t a one woman show — we’re a whole team,” she continued. “Last year, I probably couldn’t say that because we had Ivy. This year, I feel like we can afford to lose one or two because somebody else can step up.”

Perhaps nobody stepped up more than Ahyana Burnett.

The junior came into Tuesday night’s game averaging just under five points per game. On Tuesday, she scored 14 and had five assists, three steals and three rebounds.

“I cannot say how proud I am of Ahyana tonight,” Mason said. “She ran the show. When you have two of your top scorers out — that’s who you look to get the ball to — it’s hard to adjust. I thought she did a really good job.”

The Admirals (9-5) also had their second leading scorer — freshman Desiree Tandy — active and needing to take on an expanded role. She answered the call with 15 points, six rebounds and four steals. And even ended the game giving Mason opportunities to coach her up.

“She took a couple of bad shots that I got on her about at the end. But that’s being competitive and being a freshman,” Mason said. “Des is a hard matchup because she can go inside and out.”

Freshman Tyliah Bradshaw and juniors Haley Price-Hancock and Madison Terrell also saw their minutes increase and their role expanded and all had excellent games. Bradshaw had seven points and seven assists. Terrell had six points and two blocks and her and Price-Hancock both came up with key defensive stops.

Mason attributes that next-woman-up mentality with how they practice.

“We go full court the entire practice. I told them ‘You’ll never know when you have to play,’ she said. “Haley hadn’t played a lot this year and she had to play a lot of minutes. She practices hard and that’s why she can get up and down the floor. They work hard and we’re a close team. When one goes down, the rest try to pick us up. But we really do practice that way too. The last one to get on the floor — they get as much practice time as Ahyana does.

“We played six people, but we’re in shape enough to play six people,” she added. “But don’t get me wrong, it’s a whole lot harder without Lara and Cam.”

Mason is hoping that Akers can come back in time for Friday’s district game against Lincoln County, but is officially listing her as day-to-day. For Preston, the timetable extends to the next few weeks for her return. But Mason is confident that her team has the conditioning and the talent to compete without them.

For now, she’s just enjoying being 1-0 in the district and getting a win over the rival.