DCA boys get bigger, get past Boyle

Published 11:36 am Friday, February 16, 2024

Beating the Danville Christian boys just became a taller task.

The Warriors already had the tallest player in the 12th Region, and they doubled down Tuesday night with the addition of a player almost as tall and every bit as formidable.

The work of Geu Leek Ateny – particularly on the glass – in his first game since becoming eligible helped DCA complete a sweep of its 45th District opponents for the first time.

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Visiting DCA fought off Boyle County for a 50-44 victory to finish 8-0 in district play.

“To go 8-0 in the district, as tough as our district is, I’m just thankful,” DCA coach Don Story said. “I’m proud of the guys for what it takes to do that. You’ve got to show up every night and really not have a night off, and for the most part our guys have showed up every night.”

It was the first night out for Ateny, a sophomore who practiced and played in junior varsity games but sat on the bench during varsity games while he waited to become eligible.

He came off the bench in the first quarter to cheers from DCA fans, and he went on to grab 13 rebounds and score four points in less than 21 minutes.

“We love big Leek,” DCA guard Titus Boyd said. “He worked as hard as we did this summer, and he’s helping us a lot. He can rebound, he can block shots, he’s a super player, so we’re glad to have him.”

Story said he wasn’t sure how Ateny’s work in practice would carry over into a big game played before a big crowd, but the coach said Ateny handled the atmosphere well and wasn’t all that rusty.

“He’s a talented athlete,” Story said. “Hopefully he’s only going to get better and better as he gets into the flow of games. He’s got a chance to be special.”

DCA (19-5) has a chance to do big things with its two big men. Ateny’s arrival alongside junior Lual Ayiei gives the Warriors the ability to put two players on the floor with a combined height of nearly 14 feet and at least that much wingspan.

It’s a front line that apparently is still growing. Ateny was listed at 6-9 on DCA’s roster Tuesday, but by Wednesday that had been changed to 6-10, and Ayiei’s height had been revised from 6-11 to 7-0.

Boyle also had its hands full with 6-4 senior Emmanuel Dut, who leads DCA in scoring and who led the Warriors on Tuesday with 19 points, six rebounds and four assists.

The Warriors completed their run through their district opponents by winning close games and blowouts, and Boyd said it was a meaningful achievement for a team in only its fifth year as a full member of the KHSAA.

“Obviously it’s very special to us, and all glory to God,” he said. “It’s been a rough road to get here, but we’ve gotten a lot better over the year and I’m just proud of our team and our coaching staff.”

A three-point play by Boyd and a layup by Dut off a pass from Boyd, who had seven assists, gave DCA a 50-44 lead with 38 seconds remaining after Boyle had missed two chances to take the lead moments earlier.

A blocked shot by Ayiei and a rebound by Dut finished off the Warriors’ 12th win in 13 games and their 13th in as many games against 12th Region foes.

Boyle (12-12, 5-3 district) shot 26 percent in the second half and 33 percent overall, and Story said he was pleased with DCA’s defense late in the game.

“We really challenged them and came out because they were hurting us with 3s … (and) down the stretch I felt like we did a good job of playing defense,” Story said.

DCA also outrebounded Boyle 36-20, with Ateny and Ayiei grabbing 17 of the Rebels’ 30 missed shots.

DCA, which had beaten Boyle 44-33 on Dec. 19, led 19-9 after consecutive 3-pointers by Noah Imfeld at the end of the first quarter. But Boyle scored nine straight points late in the first half, was within three points at halftime and took a 32-31 lead in the third quarter.

The Warriors got the lead right back with a run of eight straight points, but the Rebels battled back to within 43-42 when Montavin Quisenberry hit a 3 with 4:19 to play.

Quisenberry scored 20 points and Demauriah Brown added nine for Boyle, which had won seven straight games.

“I told them I was proud of their effort and how they competed,” Boyle coach Dennie Webb said. “A lot of people say DCA’s the best team in the region and rightly so, (and) we had the opportunity to win the game.”

DCA had already clinched the No. 1 seed for the district tournament before Tuesday’s game. Boyle finished its district schedule in a tie with Lincoln County for the No. 2 spot.