45th District basketball: DCA boys get first district tournament win

Published 4:04 pm Friday, March 1, 2024

This is one “never” that the Danville Christian boys will never have to hear again.

DCA has designs on winning district and regional championships, but first the Warriors had to win their first postseason game since the school joined the KHSAA.

They checked that box Thursday night when they defeated Garrard County 61-30 in a 45th District Tournament semifinal at Garrard Middle School.

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It wasn’t a particularly difficult hurdle for a DCA team that had earned the No. 1 seed by going 8-0 in district play during the regular season, but it was one they had worked for years to clear.

“It’s been a long time,” DCA coach Don Story said. “We’ve tried the last several years and come up a little short the last couple, but I’m very pleased with the guys and how hard they fought tonight to get this done for us.”

The program had postseason wins at other levels, but this was its first in five seasons of KHSAA postseason eligibility. It gave the Warriors, the top-ranked team in the 12th Region all season, a ticket to next week’s regional tournament.

“That was one of our goals, to get to the region. We’ve met some goals, but we’ve still got some more to go and we’re still working,” Story said.

The next goal on the list is a district championship, and DCA (24-5) will try to check that box Friday when they face Boyle County for the title.

Lual Ayiei scored 16 points, Geu Ateny scored 15 and Emmanuel Dut added 13 for the Warriors, who led 14-2 midway through the first quarter and 27-5 late in the first half.

Fifth-seeded Garrard (7-25) lost to DCA by 53 points early in the season but by only seven in the rematch in early February, so the Warriors were on guard.

“Them playing us so well (in that) game … really put that bug in our ear, so to speak,” Story said. “We knew their capabilities if they got hot … but our guys were ready and focused, and they came in and got the job done.”

DCA held Garrard to 11 percent shooting from the field in the first half, while the Warriors shot 46 percent.

It was the fourth time this season the Warriors have held an opponent to 30 points or less, including three times during their current 10-game winning streak.

“Our defense can be pretty stifling if we rely on our big guys to challenge shots,” Story said. “If we’re active and we’re focused, we’ve got a pretty good defense.”

DCA outrebounded Garrard 36-23, getting 14 boards from Ayiei and 13 from Ateny.

Jaydon Noe and Tre Grubbs had seven of Garrard’s 10 field goals and scored 10 points each to lead the Golden Lions.

Garrard, which had only one senior in its first season under coach Kasey McRay, reached the semifinals with a 69-52 win over Danville in a first-round game Monday.