DCA sweeps All ‘A’ regional titles

Published 10:47 am Tuesday, January 16, 2024


Contributing Writer

BURGIN – DCA has earned another “A.”

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The Danville Christian boys and girls qualified for the All “A” Classic for the second time in three years after both teams won regional championships in the small-school tournament Friday night.

The DCA girls fought off a determined Danville team for a 60-48 victory, and the DCA boys bottled up Somerset in a 53-39 win to complete a sweep of the title games of the 12th Region All “A” Classic at Jack Coleman Sr. Gymnasium.

The Warriors and Lady Warriors will play in the statewide All “A” Classic Jan. 24-28 in Corbin.

The girls will play 6th Region champion Shawnee in the first round of the 16-team tournament at 5 p.m. Jan. 24, and the boys will play 14th Region champion Breathitt County in their first-round game at 10 a.m. Jan. 25.

Girls — DCA 60, Danville 48

DCA started the second half strong to take control of a much closer game than its meeting with Danville nine days earlier.

The Lady Warriors scored seven of the first nine points of the second half and outscored the Lady Admirals 21-8 over the first 6:02 of the third quarter to turn a 20-19 deficit into a 41-27 lead.

Grace Mbugua scored 15 of her game-high 30 points in the third period to lead DCA’s surge, but she said the rally was powered by defense and rebounding.

“I feel like halftime was a big change in the game for us,” said Mbugua, who also had a game-high 12 rebounds. “We came back on defense (and) we were really honing in on rebounding because they were outrebounding us in the first half. But defense was the key to winning this game.”

DCA (16-1) lost seven straight games to Danville since its first win ever in the series in the 2022 All “A” regional final, but the Lady Warriors defeated the Lady Admirals 77-25 on Jan. 4.

Danville (6-10) stood toe to toe with DCA in the first half of this game, when the lead changed hands nine times. DCA coach Billy Inmon said he had to explain to his players the meaning of the old saying “shooting themselves in the foot,” because he said that’s what the Lady Warriors were doing by not getting the ball to Mbugua, who had nine points at halftime.

“The biggest thing is we were not looking inside, so we were shooting ourselves in the foot,” Inmon said.

Inmon said he tried to make his players understand this game wouldn’t be like the previous meeting.

“I think we were just a little lax,” he said. “We weren’t dialed in there at the beginning of the game, and I tried to warn them, ‘Hey, listen, this is a new game. It’s not the last game.’ But they’re teenagers.”

DCA opened a 37-27 lead with a 3-point basket by Grace Meyer when Danville called timeout and coach Judie Mason drew a technical foul. The Lady Warriors’ run continued, and they extended their lead to 49-29 early in the fourth quarter to secure their ninth straight win.

“I’m not saying that was the difference in the game, but it took a lot out of us and it took us a while to get it back,” Mason said. “That did not beat us. (DCA) is a good team and I hope they go win it all. Please know I’m not saying that beat us, but it deflates a team that doesn’t have a true leader.”

Amauria Blackford scored 13 points and eight rebounds for DCA, which trailed 22-21 on the boards at halftime but outrebounded Danville 15-8 in the second half.

Alayah Quisenberry had 24 points and Tayvionna Caldwell added 14 for Danville. Quisenberry also had eight rebounds in a game that Mason said will help the Lady Admirals in the second half of the season.

“We absolutely grew up tonight,” Mason said. “We got beat 52 points (last week), and we flat out grew up and I will take that any time.”

Boys — DCA 53, Somerset 39

DCA held Somerset to its lowest point total in two seasons by defending the 3-point line.

Somerset came in as the 12th Region’s top 3-point shooting team at 39 percent, but the Briar Jumpers were just 2 for 15 over the first three quarters and 7 for 29 overall against the Warriors.

DCA (12-4) outscored Somerset 26-7 in the second and third periods, when the Jumpers went 0 for 11 from behind the line.

“Percentage-wise they’re a great shooting team. They’ve got some players that can really stroke it, so our game plan was just to come out and be tight on them and not let them shoot,” DCA guard Titus Boyd said.

DCA coach Don Story said physical play helped the Warriors disrupt Somerset’s shooters.

“We’ve played some pretty big games and we’ve noticed that really good teams, they play very physical and that’s helping us to become physical. So tonight we wanted to be as physical as we could without fouling and within the rules,” Story said. “I thought our guys did an outstanding job playing defense tonight, challenging 3s, and then you’ve got big ‘Lu’ (Lual Ayiei) there to challenge anything that gets past them.”

While Somerset (13-4) went cold, DCA got hot in the second quarter, when the Warriors were 6 for 9 overall and 4 for 7 from 3-point range.

Emmanuel Dut hit two 3s and scored 10 of his 11 points in the second quarter, and Boyd and Braden Fugate each hit a 3 on their way to 18 and 14 points, respectively, as DCA opened a 27-16 halftime lead that grew to 32-16 early in the second half.

“After we hit those shots we gained a lot of confidence. We trust each other and we have a good team,” Boyd said.

Fugate had nine rebounds and Ayiei had seven for DCA, which has won five straight games.

All-tournament teams

Boys: Lual Ayiei, Titus Boyd and Emmanuel Dut, Danville Christian; Trevarion Paige, Danville; Jacobe Taylor, Burgin.

Girls: Amauri Blackford, Braxtyn Heck and Grace Mbugua, Danville Christian; Tayvionna Caldwell and Alayah Quisenberry, Danville; Isabella Mays, Burgin.