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Lady Ads turn focus to district season

After Saturday’s loss in the All-A State Semifinals, Danville coach Judie Mason was ready to put the first part of the season behind her.

“Everything we do from October to Jan 25 is about the All A. Now we take a step back and everything we do now is about the district tournament,” she said Saturday afternoon. “We’re trying to get that one seed. I’ve done this a long time. These kids think it’s over. But I can promise you tomorrow, they’ll be fine.”

And they got a good start to the final stretch of the year in the form of a 55-31 win at Garrard to improve to 15-6 on the year and 4-0 in the district to give them a firm grasp on the top seed for the district tournament.

Danville was in control of the game from the opening tip. 

“They’re long, they’re athletic, they’re really good and they’re well coached,” Garrard coach and former Danville assistant Jimmie McCulley said. “That’s where I want to get this program to because that’s where I come from. Sometimes you’re the windshield and sometimes you’re the bug. Tonight we were the bug.”

Mason was concerned with how her team would come out after a grueling stretch in the All-A Classic that saw her team in action three days in a row with only one day off in between.

“I was worried because I know we’re tired. All I asked them to do was play hard and they came out and really played hard,” she said. “Our defense got after them. I’m so proud of them because that’s hard to do — I mean, I’m tired. We jumped on them from the beginning and they had a hard time getting the ball across the court.”

The final score betrays how dominant Danville was. The Admirals earned the running clock in the third quarter and elected to rest their starters in the final period. Mason joked that she was a “little disappointed in my subs there at the end for letting them come back because that’s me — that’s how competitive I am.”

Despite the grind that was the last week for the Ads, junior Cam Preston returned to form after recovering from an injury that limited her effectiveness in the All-A. She finished with 18 points, eight boards and three blocks and was in control of the game for Danville.

“That’s what I told her today — ‘you suffered through last week.’ She’s out of shape, so today I told her to come in and let’s get in shape,” Mason said. “Lara’s (Akers) still hobbled and that’s why I didn’t play her in the second half. But you’re right, Cam came to play tonight.”

Danville’s pair of point guards — junior Ahyana Burnett and sophomore Tyliah Bradshaw also stepped up in the fourth game in five days.

“Ahyana — even though she only had two points, she ran the show,” Mason said of her point guard. “She had a bad showing in the (Bethlehem) game — 1-10. She came out today and really led this team. I told her even if the shots aren’t falling, she’s the leader of the team and she did tonight. 

“And Tyliah. Tyliah was passive at EKU and I told her that she’s got to penetrate tonight and I thought she took it to the basket tonight. Those are the things I wanted them to work on and they responded”

For Garrard County, the loss will serve as a teaching moment for the first year coach.

“You don’t let it snowball the rest of the season. You take it and wad it up and throw it away. We’ve got to go because we play tomorrow,” McCulley said. “You take away the fact that we’ve got to get better fundamentally. Have to get better dribbling, passing, shooting — the whole game. It starts with fundamentals. We do fundamentals in practice every day. It might not look like it tonight, but that program (Danville) is built on fundamentals and that’s where I want this program to go from.”

Danville gets some much needed rest and won’t be back in action until Monday, Feb. 3 when it travels to Tates Creek. Garrard gets no time off as they travel to the state capital to take on Frankfort.