12th Region basketball: Southwestern ousts young Danville girls

Published 4:24 pm Wednesday, March 6, 2024

The Danville girls needed a few things to go their way, and none of them did.

The young Lady Admirals were decided underdogs Tuesday night when they faced Southwestern in the first round of the 12th Region Tournament, and they looked every bit the part in a 69-43 defeat at J.C. Eddelman Gymnasium.

Coach Judie Mason said the combination of little postseason experience and a lot of nerves would have left them at a disadvantage against just about any team in the regional field.

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And they didn’t shoot well enough to counter those things against an experienced Southwestern team with an efficient offense.

“One of our goals was we’ve got to score with them, and we didn’t,” Mason said. “Every game we’ve lost this year we’ve just quit scoring and our shots didn’t go in, and if our shots don’t go in we are horrible. We go from a pretty decent team to not a very good team, and it showed tonight.”

Danville (15-16) was an unlikely pick to reach the regional for a sixth straight season when it began the season with a team that lost three double-digit scorers to graduation and had no seniors.

They found their footing late in the season and found their way into the regional, but Mason said she knew finding their way out of the first round would be a tall task.

“You’ve got to be as real as you can be: The teams in this are better than we are. We would have had to play our perfect game to win this, and we didn’t,” she said.

The Lady Admirals shot 25 percent from the field, going 14 for 56 overall – including 7 for 32 in the second half – and 2 for 16 from 3-point range.

Even so, they were still in the game late in the third quarter, when an 8-2 run that included 3-pointers by Myla Turner and Anya Thompson pulled them within 35-30.

But they got only one field goal in the next 8:38, and they were outscored 34-13 over the final 10:07.

Mason said the Lady Admirals’ lack of regional tournament experience – only two of this year’s players were in the rotation last year – was evident in the second half.

“None of these kids have been in this atmosphere, none of them. I had four seniors, and all these kids were cheering on the bench,” she said. “It matters. They were scared to death, and you could see it.”

Alayah Quisenberry scored a game-high 23 points for Danville, but she became the focal point of Southwestern’s defense because no one else could consistently score.

Myla Turner, the team’s leading scorer, and Tayvionna Caldwell were next on the list with six points each.

Southwestern had beaten Danville 63-60 on Dec. 15, but in the rematch the Lady Admirals were held below 40 points for only the fourth time this season.

Danville rallied after falling behind 9-2 in the first 2 1/2 minutes, as Quisenberry scored the final seven points of the first quarter to pull the Lady Admirals within 14-13.

The game was tied three times in the second quarter, and the Lady Admirals had two chances to take the lead.

Southwestern (20-11) opened a 32-22 lead with a 9-2 run at the start of the second half while Danville missed eight of its first nine shots.

After the Lady Admirals cut the margin to five points, the Lady Warriors scored 19 of the next 21 points to put the game out of reach.

Kinsley Molden scored 20 points to lead Southwestern, and Payton Acey had 15 rebounds to help the Lady Warriors outrebound Danville 45-31.

Mason said her players should be proud of what they accomplished in the final month of the season, and she said she hopes they gain confidence as well as experience not only from how they played to get into the regional, but also in this game.

“(They’ve) got to have more confidence, and that comes from this game,” she said. “It hurt them, but I told them they just need to look in the mirror and say, ‘What do I need to do? Did I work hard enough to win?’”