The Wayne County Cardinals met Danville, last Thursday night in the final game of the opening round of the 12th Region Tournament, at Pulaski County High School Gym. The Cards entered the contest with an 18-12 mark, coming off a 77-76 win at Southwestern in the 48th District Tournament. Danville owned a 21-12 record on the season and lost in the championship game to host Lincoln County 61-50.
The matchup marked the 44th meeting all time between the two schools with Wayne County holding a 24-19 series advantage, as the teams
didn't play this season. The winner would advance to face Somerset,
a 77-66 winner over East Jessamine in Monday night's second semifinal
game, as host Pulaski County will meet West Jessamine in the other
Danville withstood a Wayne County comeback that battled back from a
16-point deficit to claim the lead on several occasions late but it
was the Admirals with a 15-4 run over the game's final two-minutes to
claim the 70-60 opening round win. Trey Dawson, a 6-0 senior led four
winners in double figures with 19 points and added 7 rebounds with 3
assists, while Aiden Slone totaled 15 points with a game high 6
assists with 6 boards to pace the Ads.
Dawson scored 10 of his points in the final quarter, finishing 7 of
13 from the field and 5 of 6 from the free throw line, while Slone
connected on 5 of 13 from the floor and was a perfect 4 of 4 from the
free throw line, all late as the winners improved to 22-12 on the
"We really struggled offensively especially early, maybe our first
three sets we ran the wrong play and credit Danville their length,
speed and athleticism made it a struggle all night. We struggled on
the backboards and this was just a tough matchup. Our kids never
quit, they battled to the end and made a nice run from late in the
second quarter on. As a coach to have a team that never quits and
battles is really all we can ask for," said Cards head coach Rodney
Dante Hayden added 13 points and 3 boards, the junior was 4 of 12
from the field, which included 2 of 8 from 3-point range and a
perfect 3 of 3 from the free throw line. Damion Givens-Ford nearly
tripled his season average with 11 points, shooting 4 of 6 from the
floor and a perfect 2 of 2 from the free throw line. Senior Darrian
Bell just missed a double-double with 9 points and a game high 13
rebounds, as the Ads enjoyed a 36-32 rebounding edge, which included
a 12-7 offensive edge. Ethan Copper totaled 3 points off the bench,
as six different Danville players scored in the win.
Wayne County, which dropped to 18-13, was led by the 27 points and 9
rebounds of 6-4 senior Thomas Spencer. The stalwart was 9 of 16 from
the floor and 8 of 10 from the free throw line, while logging all 32-
minutes of action. Fellow senior Reese Sexton provided a big lift
off the bench with 12 points and 4 boards, connecting on 5 of 8 field
goal attempts, which included 2 of 4 from 3-point range.
"Thomas really played hard and it seemed like if we were going to
get a rebound it was going to be him, as he played the last two games
like we challenged him the past four years. Go to the goal hard and
with authority, can't say enough about his effort and play. Reese
came in and is a shooter, we tell him that all the time. He hit some
big baskets to help us get back in the game, as those two had 22 of
our 24-points at halftime," said Woods.
Mason Burchett totaled 9 points with 4 boards, while Kameron Gehring
chipped in with 5 points and 5 assists. Chandler Humble scored 5
points, while Brody Weaver netted 2 points and Bryson Tucker battled
thru a scoreless effort to grab 4 rebounds, as six different
Cardinals marked the scoring margin.
Danville dominated the early minutes and made the most of Wayne
County opening 3 of 11 from the field. Aiden Slone led all players
with 7 points as the Ads claimed a 17-8 first quarter advantage.
The Admirals opened the second stanza with a 9-2 run to own their
largest lead of the night at 26-10, the Cards answered with a 14-6
surge of their own to end the half and close the gap to 32-24 at
intermission, as Thomas Spencer led the charge with 15 points in the
Wayne County turned up the defense in the third frame, as Danville
was just 3 of 15 from the field and the Cards used four different
scorers to spark a 14-9 surge and close the gap to 41-38 after 24-
Mason Burchett scored all 9 of his points in the second half and his
last three gave the Cards a 55-54 edge near the two-minute mark but
it was all Danville after that as the 45th District squad made 14 of
16 free throws in the fourth quarter and used a 29-22 tilt to seal
the 70-60 win.
"We had a couple big turnovers late when we could've extended the
lead to two possessions and Danville hit some big shots, so its
disappointing. Disappointed for our seniors those guys are great
kids, great students and never ever had any problems of any kind with
those guys. To win three district championships in a row, these guys
have battled thru so many injuries and in many ways they could've
overachieved. This hurts, but losing this time of year always does,
just a good group of kids," said Woods.
Danville shot 24 of 59 overall for 41 percent and that included a 5
of 24 mark from 3-point range for 21 percent. The winners were 17 of
21 from the free throw line for 81 percent and totaled 11 assists
with 6 steals against just 2 turnovers.
Wayne County was 23 of 53 from the field overall for 43 percent and
that included a 6 of 22 clip from 3-point range for 27 percent. The
squad was 8 of 10 from the free throw line for 80 percent and totaled
14 assists with 1 steal against 8 turnovers.
Congrats to seniors Austin Bell, Kameron Gehring, Thomas Spencer,
Reese Sexton, Bryson Tucker and Chandler Humble for all their success on and off the court.
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