Boyle blasts Garrard in district tourney; Danville boys fall to Lincoln
Published 10:06 am Tuesday, March 16, 2021
By MIKE MARSEE
Even in a season in which teams are thankful just to be playing, they’re even more thankful for moments like this.
The roar of a crowd, such as it was. The intensity of an elimination game. The satisfaction of knowing there will be more games to play.
The Lincoln County boys enjoyed all of those things Monday night — and endured a little anguish along the way — as they extended their season with a 57-54 victory over Danville in the semifinals of the 45th District Tournament.
The Patriots lost most of a 20-point lead before fighting off the Admirals to earn a chance to play for their third consecutive district title and a berth in the 12th Region Tournament, and their coach isn’t taking either of those things for granted in this pandemic-affected season.
“I’m really happy for our kids,” Lincoln coach Jeff Jackson said. “(Danville coach) Ed (McKinney) and I talked before the game, just thankful we’re playing. It’s a big deal right now. It’s a big deal for these kids, for the fans.”
Lincoln will face Boyle for the championship Wednesday. Boyle defeated Garrard County 80-47 in Monday’s first semifinal.
No. 3 seed Lincoln (13-6) took some ill-advised shots at the start of the fourth quarter during a 13-0 run by second-seeded Danville (14-9), which went on to whittle the margin to two points, but the Patriots came up with a handful of big plays in the closing seconds.
“We took some quick shots. … We’re playing like we’re behind instead of in the lead, and we’ve got to be a little bit more disciplined,” Jackson said. “But I thought we showed some toughness, mentally and physically, when they made the run. I didn’t see us really panic and lose our composure. We got a stop when we needed to, Jaxon (Smith) got a huge rebound when we needed to, and we got a huge turnover.”
Smith’s rebound followed a defensive stop, and he hit one of two free throws with 15 seconds remaining to give Lincoln a 55-51 lead. Tramane Alcorn got the rebound after another stop on the subsequent possession, and he sank two free throws with five seconds left to seal the win.
Alcorn, a 49 percent free throw shooter entering the game, was deliberately fouled twice previously, but he made four of five shots at the line in the last two minutes and eight of 10 overall. He led Lincoln with 20 points and 10 rebounds.
The Patriots led 46-26 late in the third quarter, then surrendered 13 straight points as the Admirals came roaring back. Lincoln opened the fourth quarter with a pair of missed 3-point shots, and Danville countered with 3s by Channing Ford and Dante Hayden on the other end.
Ford had three 3s and Hayden had two in the first 4:49 of the fourth period to pull the Admirals within 48-45.
Hayden hit two of three free throws with 1:12 left to make it 51-49.
But for Danville, the damage had been done in the first half, when they shot just 28 percent from the field, committed seven turnovers and fell behind 26-17.
“We didn’t play well enough early. They don’t have too many throwaway possessions, so you’ve got to match that,” McKinney said. “You always want to go out being competitive, and I thought we competed there late.”
Lincoln extended its lead in the third quarter, when Smith scored seven straight points to launch an 11-3 run and Clayton Davis and Colton Ralston finished it with consecutive baskets that left the Patriots leading 46-26.
Smith had 15 points and seven rebounds for Lincoln, which shot 35 percent from the field.
Danville shot 41 percent after going 14 for 26 overall and 6 for 10 from 3-point range in the second half.
Ford led the Admirals with 23 points, Ethan Wood had 16 points and eight rebounds and Hayden had 11 points and six rebounds.
It was the final game for five Danville seniors, a group that includes both the team’s top players and others in supporting roles.
“We’ve got a lot of good dudes,” McKinney said. “That’s a quality bunch.”
Boyle County 80, Garrard County 47
The Rebels had been tuning their engine for the better part of a week, and they put the pedal to the metal to leave the Golden Lions in the dust.
No. 1 seed Boyle (18-3) scored 30 of the game’s first 36 points to distance itself from fourth-seeded Garrard (9-16) and earn its first regional tournament berth in three years.
The Rebels had struggled to beat the Golden Lions 61-56 six days earlier in their final regular-season game, then spent the days between that game and this one
“They were ready to go,” Boyle coach Dennie Webb said. “Warming up, they were pretty hyped up. I attributed that to the way they practiced the last three or four days. We busted them pretty hard.”
The result: Jagger Gillis opened the game with consecutive 3-point goals, and Boyle spent the rest of the first quarter taking the ball to the basket. The Rebels went 10 for 19 from the field in the period with seven layups and eight assists.
“Going into the last five games, I felt like we just took our foot off the throttle a little bit, and people started zoning us a little more. So we spent all week just talking about attacking, not settling for jumpers,” Webb said.
“We play better when we’re running, getting up and down and attacking the rim, and the kids did that.
“They had a little fire in them tonight, and that’s the way we’ve got to start off games from here on out.”
Gillis had 10 points and Luke Sheperson had eight as Boyle opened a 30-6 lead in the first minute of the second quarter. Later in the period, a burst of nine straight points put the Rebels up 41-14.
Garrard fought back in the third quarter, cutting the margin to 12 points, but Boyle finished the game on a 27-7 run.
Gillis went 7 for 9 from the field and scored a game-high 21 points for the Rebels, who shot 46 percent compared with 33 percent in their previous game against the Lions. Sheperson and Hagan Webb scored 15 each, and Webb added six assists.
Owen Barnes and Jakei Tarter had eight rebounds each and Sheperson had seven to help Boyle outrebound Garrard 47-33.
“We talked about attacking and rebounding, and they did it,” Webb said. “Lucklily, everything I’ve said to them all week, I can say, ‘See, I was right.”
Ethan Cooper scored 20 points and Montavian Quisenberry added 13 for Garrard, which had won three of its previous four games. Hudson Cornett had seven rebounds, and Quisenberry had five assists.