DCA girls whip Rockcastle to reach regional final

Published 5:24 pm Saturday, March 9, 2024

The game the Danville Christian girls wanted to play got them to the game they wanted most to win.

After merely getting by in the first round of the 12th Region Tournament, the Lady Warriors got to another level Friday night to get a shot at the championship.

They were focused and ferocious as they dominated Rockcastle County in a 62-47 semi final victory at J.C. Eddelman Gymnasium.

Email newsletter signup

The win sends DCA into the regional final for the first time in its relatively brief history. The Lady Warriors will return to Lincoln County on Saturday night to play West Jessamine, another first-time finalist.

DCA coach Billy Inmon said he wants his players to approach the title game exactly as they did the semifinal.

“Be bold, be aggressive, be fearless,” Inmon said. “Because it’s more important for us to have a strong testimony than it is even to win the game, and you can’t glorify God in this world without being bold … and I want people to see that in them.”

That boldness was on display from the opening tip Friday, as DCA (28-2) attacked Rockcastle on defense and used that to spark its offense, opening a 15-3 lead in the first 5 1/2 minutes that was never threatened.

“I thought they came in really focused and really aggressive, and I was worried that we would come out a little timid,” Inmon said. “(I said), ‘Any mistake you make, make an aggressive mistake, and that’s what I felt like they did.”

Grace Mbugua had 31 points and 12 rebounds and Paisley Metz added 14 points to lead the Lady Warriors, who were feeling fine three days after they fought off Wayne County in the first round when a handful of players were weakened by an illness.

“I think we came in with a lot more energy because we realized, ‘OK, this is it. One more Friday, and if not, we’ll be done,” Metz said.

Inmon said he has been counting Fridays for some in hopes of helping the players savor every one of them.

“I want them to enjoy this,” he said. “Eight weeks ago I started saying, ‘You know what, we only have seven more Fridays,’ … and they all just want to hang on to it.

“A lot of times at this stage in the game they’re tired and ready for the season to be over, and I totally get that. But these guys just want it to last a little bit longer, and I really want it to last a little bit longer because they’re such incredible kids.”

Rockcastle (21-12) was without leading scorer Macy Spivey, who suffered a torn ACL in the first round, and second-leading scorer Talynne Shearer was scoreless in the first half and held to four points overall.

DCA’s defense held the Lady Rockets to 32 percent shooting and 11 turnovers in the first half.

“I thought the defense was outstanding, I really did. And that’s a good team,” Inmon said.

The Lady Warriors hit three straight 3-pointers in their first-quarter run, including two by Amauri Blackford that Inmon said opened things up for the offense.

“That spread everything out. They were trying to back down to the corners and inside, and she just didn’t allow it to happen,” Inmon said.

Blackford had 11 points and nine rebounds for DCA, which shot 43 percent from the field and led by as many as 23 points in the fourth quarter as it defeated Rockcastle for the second time in 16 days, following a 57-43 win in its regular-season finale.

The Lady Warriors’ game against West Jessamine (26-8), which reached the finals with a 57-48 win over Southwestern, will also be a rematch. DCA defeated the Lady Colts 68-49 on Jan. 2 in Nicholasville behind 30 points from Mbugua and 17 from Metz.

Inmon said he expects the Lady Warriors to battle some nerves as the biggest game in school history approaches.

“They’re not walking around like, ‘Oh, yeah, we’re going to take it to them,’” he said. “It’s like, ‘Oh, Coach, I’m nervous.’ Well, I am, too.

“I would love to think (they won’t be nervous Saturday), but I’d say by about 5:30 they’re going to be feeling it and honestly, I probably will, too.”