Boyle downs Danville in crosstown matchup; See photo slideshow

By MIKE MARSEE
Contributing Writer

The Boyle County boys came to Danville on Tuesday night armed with the memory of what happened the last time the two rivals faced off — and the ability to keep it from happening again.

Nearly a full year had passed since Boyle’s previous season ended when its 15-point halftime lead evaporated in a postseason loss to its arch rival.

When the teams reconvened to renew their rivalry, the Rebels once again took command of the game in the first half. This time, however, they first protected, then extended their lead to post an 80-56 victory.

Visiting Boyle (12-1, 3-0 45th District) led Danville (9-6, 3-1) by as many as 16 points in the first half and was up by 12 at halftime. That’s when coach Dennie Webb reminded the Rebels what happened on the night of Feb. 27, 2020, when they led the Admirals 35-20 at halftime of a 45th District Tournament semifinal before Danville rallied for a 53-51 win.

“I said, ‘This is right where we were the last time we played them,’” Webb said.

Webb’s players, of course, had not forgotten.

“We all really wanted this payback,” said sophomore Owen Barnes, who led Boyle with a career-high 20 points. “We saw last year how easy they came back in the second half, so we couldn’t let off.”

And they did not. The margin between the teams was never less than nine points in the second half, and the Rebels stretched it to 17 points by the end of the third quarter and were never threatened in the fourth.

It’s important to note that Boyle is not the same team it was a year ago, and Webb said that difference was an important factor in this game.

“We were relatively inexperienced last year, and we didn’t handle things like that very well,” he said. “I think part of it is growth. Kids get a little older, a little more mature, and they understand … how to handle the adversity a little bit better.”

A Boyle team that starts two seniors and three juniors and goes at least 10 players deep has the best record in the 12th Region entering the homestretch of the regular season.

The Rebels had won only one of five games against the Admirals over the previous two seasons, but they were fired up for this game.

The game was played before what was certainly the smallest crowd ever to watch Boyle and Danville face off, with only about 100 people were in the bleachers due to COVID-19 protocols. The Rebels, however, were able to motivate themselves.

“The bench kept us hyped up, we were running, we were having fun,” Barnes said. “We rebounded and got up and down the court, and we played good defense.”

Boyle was balanced on offense, but no one made a bigger splash than Barnes, a reserve who enjoyed his best game as a Rebel with 20 points and six rebounds in 17 1/2 minutes.

“I woke up in a good mood. I was ready to play today,” he said.

That wasn’t the case at the start of the season. Barnes said he had worked hard on his game over the summer, but a bout of tendinitis in one of his knees forced him to miss Boyle’s first three games.

“Owen had the nicest game he’s had all year, and part of it is he’s just now getting back into basketball shape,” Webb said.

“I really felt like my old self, and it felt good,” said Barnes, who is averaging 8.9 points and 4.1 rebounds in 10 games.

Rebounding was a major part of Boyle’s success Tuesday, as the Rebels outrebounded Danville 52-27 and got 23 offensive rebounds, leading to 18 more shots from the field and 13 more free throws than the Admirals.

“We didn’t execute all that well, we forced some things at times. But the kids playing hard and going and getting the ball is making up for some of that. We’re getting more possession and more shots,” Webb said.

“The effort’s there, and they enjoyed playing together, and that’s what you want.”

Jakei Tarter had 11 rebounds in 16 minutes, including seven on the offensive glass. Luke Imfeld got eight boards, and Gabe Hodge had seven in less than four minutes on the floor.

This is where it should be noted that Danville is not the same team as last year, either, particularly in the paint. The Admirals have only one true inside player in Ethan Wood, and he picked up three fouls in the first half.

“Once Ethan got that fourth foul, we just couldn’t keep them off the glass,” Danville coach Ed McKinney said.

“Once they get it off the first shot and get it in the lane, then you’re in trouble because of their physicality and size.”

Boyle’s aggressive defense also forced Danville into 18 turnovers.

“They shoot seven percentage points better from the field, they outrebound us by 25 rebounds and we turn it over twice as many times, that’s a recipe for a 20-point loss,” McKinney said.

Hagan Webb scored 18 points and Luke Sheperson added 14 for Boyle, which has won six straight games.

“They’re No. 1 in the region for a reason,” McKinney said. “They’ve got a lot of good players, good athletes.”

Dante Hayden led Danville with 19 points, and Wood added 10. Jalen Dunn had a team-high eight rebounds.

The Admirals were playing for the first time in 14 days after severe winter weather wreaked havoc on schedules across Kentucky. The Rebels, like most teams, missed several days of practice and games but got a game in Saturday.

One of last week’s postponements was a Feb. 16 Danville-Boyle game that has been rescheduled for March 11 at Boyle, making it the final regular-season game for both teams.