Girls' Sweet 16: Danville, Ashland hurdle first-round tests

mmaloney@herald-leader.comMarch 12, 2014 

BOWLING GREEN — Danville didn't play its best game Wednesday.

But the Lady Admirals played well enough to edge Shelby Valley, 52-48, in the opening round of the Houchens Industries/KHSAA Girls' Sweet 16 in Diddle Arena.

"Fear got to us a little bit," winning coach Judie Mason said. "I thought at the beginning of the game we just played. We weren't scared at all.

"And then we looked up at the scoreboard and realized we were in the State Tournament. And the second quarter, I thought that showed a lot."

Not to worry, though.

Danville, which had never won a regional game or even a district championship until this year, built an early 17-6 lead.

Then, despite giving up nine straight points — a three-pointer to end the first quarter and the first six points of the second quarter — Danville still led 29-24 at halftime.

Shelby Valley (24-7) came back to tie at 38 late in the third quarter, but it was all Danville from there.

The Ads got the final two points of the quarter, the first four of the fourth quarter and were never caught.

Danville, going 15 of 25 at the free-throw line, scored its final four points and eight of its 12 fourth-quarter points at the line.

Freshman Alyvia Walker led the Admirals (25-7) with 15 points. Essence Grey finished with 14 points, six rebounds and four assists. C.J. McPhearson added 11 points.

Danville turned the ball over only six times while forcing 17. The Ads finished with a 17-2 advantage in points off turnovers.

"Like I told them in the locker room, it wasn't pretty," Mason said. "But I'll take a win and it being ugly."

Taylor Rowe topped Shelby Valley with 15 points. Lakyn Mullins led the Lady Kats with eight rebounds, adding eight points.

"It was a hard-fought game," Coach Rodney Rowe said. "I felt like my kids played extremely hard. That's a very talented team we just got through playing.

"We just don't see that type of speed back home in the mountains. You might see a player or two that quick but, boy, as a team they kept pressure on us all night."

Danville will face Ashland Blazer in Friday's opening game of the quarterfinals.

Ashland Blazer 56, Henderson Co. 48: The Kittens rallied by outscoring Henderson 19-6 in the fourth quarter.

With star junior Alexis Robinson held to two points through three quarters, Ashland won with team play and defense.

Shelby Gransberry led the Kittens (25-8) with 24 points. Mykassa Robinson had 11 and Alexis Robinson finished with nine. Haley-Sue Foutch added seven and led Ashland rebounders with nine.

Coach Bill Bradley said the key quarter was the second, when Alexis Robinson was on the bench with three fouls.

"I thought we survived that quarter," he said. "... I know we lost the lead, but we were only a bucket down after the quarter was over. And that really gave us confidence going in (to halftime) with Alexis coming back."

Bradley added that Gransberry played "the best game of her career, by far. Wasn't timid at all, went to the basket, rebounded. And I thought she defended well on (DeAsia) Outlaw — that was one of the biggest keys of the game also."

Kacie Wallace scored 12 points to pace the Lady Colonels (24-6). Outlaw totaled 10 points and six rebounds.

While Ashland made half its shots (19 of 38), Henderson shot 34.6 percent (18 of 52). Ashland outscored the Colonels 32-20 in the paint.

Butler 54, Newport Central Catholic 52: Danielle Lawrence totaled 19 points and seven rebounds to lead the Bearettes to their 17th win in a row.

Tied 26-26 at halftime, NewCath took its first lead when Alexus Mayes hit the opening bucket of the third quarter.

The Thoroughbreds (29-5) took their final lead, 38-37, when Miss Basketball finalist Nicole Kiernan scored on the low post late in the third quarter.

Butler scored the last four points of the quarter and the first six of the fourth quarter to open a 47-38 lead.

NewCath never came closer than the final score, getting a layup by Michaela Ware just ahead of the final buzzer.

Tasia Jeffries came off the bench to score 11 points for Butler (29-3). Jaelyn Penn had nine points and seven rebounds.

Kiernan led NewCath with 19 points and 15 rebounds. Ware added 15 points.

Butler finished with a 21-11 edge in points off turnovers. NewCath also suffered at the free-throw line, going 6-for-16 to Butler's 11-for-17.

Mark Maloney: (859) 231-3229. Twitter: @MarkMaloneyHL. Blog: markmaloney.bloginky.com.

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