DCA Girls pass toughest test to edge Boyle

Published 6:28 pm Friday, February 16, 2024

The Danville Christian girls got just what they wanted and just what they needed.

Looking to complete a sweep of their 45th District opponents for the first time, the Lady Warriors also got the kind of test their coach said will help prepare them for the postseason.

The Lady Warriors defeated Boyle County on Tuesday night to finish their district schedule with a perfect 8-0 record. They had to fight until the final seconds, however, to claim a 53-48 victory in the only truly close game they have played this season.

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Visiting DCA lost most of the 15-point lead they built in the early going, then held on as Boyle tried to complete its comeback in the last three minutes.

“With 20-some seconds left in the game, I looked at (guard) Braxtyn Heck and I said, ‘Hey, I know you’re not enjoying this, but I’m glad it’s happening,’” DCA coach Billy Inmon said. “She looked at me like, ‘Coach, what do you mean?’ I said, ‘You need to get past this. You need to battle through it.’ … After the game, she understood it. With 20-some seconds left, not so much.”

Prior to Tuesday, DCA (22-2) hadn’t played a game decided by fewer than 12 points, but the Lady Warriors know there will likely be close games ahead in the postseason as they try to win their first district and regional championships.

“Yes, there are going to be games like this, so we see that,” Heck said. “(This game) definitely pushed us … and we said we’ve got to dig deep and we’ve just got to play our game.”

DCA dug deep to beat Boyle (18-9, 4-3 district), which outscored the Lady Warriors 18-12 in the fourth quarter, and finished undefeated in district games for the first time in its young history.

“It was a huge, huge accomplishment for our school,” said Heck, one of the team’s two seniors. “We swept the district, and I just praise God for every blessing that he’s given us through this whole season and throughout this whole journey that we’ve had.”

When the DCA boys defeated Boyle 50-44 a couple hours later to complete their own district sweep, DCA became the first 45th District school to have boys and girls teams go undefeated in the district since Lincoln County in 2007-08.

“These kids don’t want it for the sake of the record,” Inmon said. “They want it so that other kids that want to play ball but want a Christian environment don’t have to sacrifice. They want to send that message, and for that I really admire them.”

Grace Mbugua had 25 points and 21 rebounds to lead DCA to its 14th win in as many games this season against 12th Region foes, and Amauri Blackford added 11 points and 10 rebounds.

The Lady Warriors, who had previously secured the No. 1 seed for the district tournament, led 45-30 early in the fourth quarter before Boyle came roaring back with a 13-2 run that included five points from Annabelle Tarter and four from Payton Bugg.

It was 49-46 when Boyle’s Ashlen Young hit two free throws with 1:48 remaining. Mbugua answered with a layup that made it a five-point game, but Young’s steal and layup made it 51-48 at 1:00.

Boyle got one chance to pull within one point or tie the game before DCA got a stop and Paisley Metz scored in transition with 41 seconds left, and the Lady Rebels didn’t score again.

“The last two minutes our rebounding was not where it should have been, but the defense was spectacular. They never got one good shot,” Inmon said. “And when you can do that, you don’t have to be good every night to win.”

DCA, which beat Boyle 58-43 on Dec. 19, scored the first 12 points of the game and led 19-4 after Mbugua hit a 3-pointer with 6:46 left in the second quarter.

Mbugua had nine points and Blackford had seven points and seven rebounds during the Lady Warriors’ opening run.

Boyle stayed in the game because of its defense, which forced 23 turnovers, and its work on the boards, where it held its own against taller DCA, which outrebounded the Lady Rebels 51-39.

That helped the Lady Rebels get 72 field goal attempts, but they shot 21 percent and were just 3 for 29 from 3-point range.

“We’ve worked on defense all year long; we’re going to focus on the offensive side of things going into this last stretch of the season,” Boyle coach Brian Britt said. “When we play good defense and we get the ball out and go, we get easy shots. It’s when we have to set up in the halfcourt that things get awkward, and I think that’s going to be something that will change during the postseason.”

Tarter scored 11 points, Bugg scored 10 points and Andie Glasscock had eight rebounds for Boyle, which was already locked into the No. 2 district seed.