The pressure was just too much.
The Danville girls were at their defensive best on Tuesday night as they qualified for the District Finals and built momentum for the Regional Tournament.
They beefed up their defense all over the court, taking the pressure to another level to put Lincoln County away early in a 78-47 win in a 45th District Tournament semifinal in Danville.
The Lady Admirals forced 11 turnovers in the first quarter and 26 in all and turned many of those turnovers into easy shots at the other end of the field as they won for the 13th time in their last 14 games.
“I felt like our defense was in total control tonight,” Danville coach Judie Mason said. “If we play a good defense like that, we will cause problems for some teams.”
Danville (25-4) hit the 25-game mark for the second time in school history and qualified for the 12th regional tournament for the fourth straight year.
The Lady Admirals will look to claim their third consecutive district title when they face Danville Christian in the final at 7 p.m. Thursday.
A 55-51 loss to DCA on January 14 in the 12th Region All “A” Classic final was a turning point for Danville, who won his next 12 games and highlighted the defense that Mason said was missing from this defeat.
“That’s really what we’ve been focusing on since then, and it’s starting to show,” Mason said. “No matter how we shoot, we have to be able to play defense.”
Danville’s shot was more than enough against Lincoln. The Lady Admirals were right on their season average of 43% from the field and were even better from 3 points, where they were 12 for 26 for 46%.
Lara Akers went 6 for 11 from 3-point range and led the Lady Admirals with 19 points. Jenna Akers was 3 for 8 and had 18 points, and Samantha Bottom was 2 for 4 and had 10 points.
“Our defense gave us some good shots,” Mason said. “We missed a lot of good shots… but I just thought everyone played well.”
Lincoln (12-20) got away with 23 turnovers in their first-round win over Boyle County the night before, but couldn’t survive another high number of turnovers.
“(Danville) played like an experienced, top-class team that was hungry for a deep run, and some of our inexperience and youthfulness showed that tonight,” the Lincoln coach said. , James Jackson. “I think our girls have done some good things at times, but when you play against a team of this caliber who have so much experience, you have to play for 32 (minutes) or you’re going to have a tough time.”
Danville hit four of his first five shots to lead 11-2 after three minutes and took a 22-4 lead when Jenna Akers opened the second quarter with the Lady Admirals’ fifth 3-pointer in nine attempts so far. .
Lincoln rallied by beating Danville 12-8 over the next five minutes, securing five points from Chloe Ralston and four from Ally Lynn, but the Lady Admirals regained control with a 9-0 run that gave them a 39-16 lead.
Danville’s biggest lead was 57-23 at the end of the third quarter.
Desiree Tandy scored 15 points for the Lady Admirals. Tandy grabbed 10 rebounds to help them edge past the Lady Patriots 38-33, followed closely by Jenna Akers with eight, Tyliah Bradshaw with seven and Love Mays with six.
Taylen Ralston led Lincoln with 12 points and Lynn, the team’s only senior, had 10. MaKayla Greer had a team-high 10 rebounds.
Jackson said it’s been a tough season for Lincoln, who played under his third coach in as many seasons and relied heavily on players from all four high school levels.
“There were times when the Akers and Tandy and those girls had to go through the same things,” he said. “That’s what our kids are doing now, and hopefully by the time they’re up there as juniors and seniors, they’ll be able to do the same.
“You look at the growth, you look at the development of some of our young kids, some of the older players… those are the things you look at to see the positives and see where the growth still needs to happen.”
45th District Tournament
Lincoln County 4 18 24 47
Danville 19 41 57 78
LINCOLN (12-20) — Chloe Ralston 8, Taylen Ralston 12, Alexia Baldock 3, Ally Lynn 10, Elly Sims 5, Hallie Mullins 2, MaKayla Greer 4, Mercedes Hensley 2, Maecey Carrier 1.
DANVILLE (25-4) – Love Mays 6, Lara Akers 19, Jenna Akers 18, Tyliah Bradshaw 8, Desiree Tandy 15, Samantha Bottom 10, Jazelynn Doneghy 2.