ONE GIANT LEAP
DCA wins Stuart Powell Christmas Classic
Published 2:36 pm Sunday, December 26, 2021
The latest big step for the Danville Christian Academy boys covered all of about 20 feet.
That was the distance the Warriors traveled from their bench to midcourt Thursday night to claim the trophy they earned from the biggest tournament win in the program’s history.
DCA came from behind for a 59-52 overtime victory over Anderson County to complete a three-game run to the championship of its own Stuart Powell Christmas Classic.
The Warriors have won other tournaments in previous seasons, but coach Don Story said the level of competition in this eight-team event and the way they battled back to win the title game made this their biggest tournament win to date.
“When you’re building a program it’s a process, and it’s a step-by-step process,” Story said. “Any time you can fight through battles in a championship game and come through and win in overtime, it’s just an important step in hopefully carrying on the culture and starting a tradition of winning.”
You could see what this win meant to the Warriors in the way they celebrated as the final buzzer sounded, and you could hear it a few minutes later in the roars coming from the home locker room at the Ernest Martin Athletic Complex.
“There’s some good teams in this tournament. It’s really big for our program and for our team, and I feel like people are going to see this and know that we’re coming. We’re pretty good this year,” said Titus Boyd, who was named the tournament’s most valuable player after scoring 24 points in the title game.
DCA (7-2) rallied from a six-point deficit in the last two minutes of regulation and outplayed Anderson (4-6) in overtime to extend the longest winning streak in program history to six games.
That streak included a 76-36 victory over Model in the first round of the Stuart Powell Christmas Classic and a 57-34 win over Middlesboro in the semifinals. The Warriors took a step up in class in the title game, and Story said he was pleased with the way they battled even when things weren’t going their way.
“I saw a fight tonight,” he said. “Everything didn’t go our way. We gave us some things and we turned it over a few times, but to the players’ credit, they never gave up and they kept fighting and fighting until it finally did turn our way. You just try to give yourself a chance, and I think we gave ourselves a chance, and this game turned our way.”
It turned on DCA’s defense, which remained consistent even as the offense was erratic. The Warriors forced 22 turnovers and held Anderson to 36 percent shooting in the second half and overtime.
“We’re trying to define ourselves as a half-court, scrappy, trapping defense,” Story said. “Sometimes we’ll miss somebody and they’ll hit a 3 or drive, but by and large, I think if we can keep that pressure on, it ends up hurting at least some teams and gives us a better chance of winning the game.”
It also gives the Warriors a new identity.
“Recently DCA hasn’t really been a defensive team, but that’s what we’re trying to become this year, go all out on defense, give all our effort and sell out,” Boyd said.
DCA led 9-4 in the first quarter but was overtaken just over a minute later. Anderson opened five-point leads in both the second and third quarters — the Warriors managed only nine points in each period — and opened its largest lead at 38-32 in the first minute of the fourth.
The Bearcats led 46-40 with 1:57 left, but DCA scored six straight points to tie the game, drawing even with 46 seconds left on two free throws by Xavier Yamo.
“We just got together and said, ‘All right, let’s win this game,’ and we did,” Boyd said. “I thought we played really aggressive defense there at the end, we got some traps and we hit some big shots.”
The Warriors dominated the overtime period, hitting six of seven shots from the field as they outscored Anderson 13-6. Yamo scored five of his 17 points and Lual Ayiei scored all four of his points in the extra period.
Boyd didn’t score in overtime but had 10 points in the fourth quarter to reach his season high.
Casey County (4-7) finished third in the DCA tournament, bouncing back from a loss to Anderson in the semifinals to defeat Middlesboro 65-49 in the third-place game.
DCA moves on to play three games this week in the Lake Cumberland Holiday Hoops at Somerset Christian. The Warriors played Cumberland County on Monday and will face Beth Haven on Tuesday and Somerset Christan on Wednesday.
Those games will be followed by the first of their eight 45th District games Jan. 6 at Danville, and the 12th Region All “A” Classic comes just a few days after that.
“All we’re preparing for this season is for our district (seeding games) and the All “A” Classic,” Story said.
Boyd said this tournament win and the way they won it gives the Warriors momentum as they move toward January.
“Besides us winning a tournament, we just fought all the way through the week. We’re fighters, all the way to the end,” he said. “I just want to give all the glory to God. He’s the reason why we won this tournament and why we played so good.”
Stuart Powell Christmas Classic
At Danville Christian
Anderson County – 16 27 37 46 52
Danville Christian – 14 23 32 46 59
ANDERSON (4-6) — Josh Bixler 9, Carson Sutherland 4, Jacob Spencer 21, Brice Snellen 12, Tyler Siria 6.
DCA (7-2) — Titus Boyd 24, Noah Imfeld 5, Xavier Yamo 17, Ryan Ridge 9, Lual Ayiei 4.