By Will Willems
LEBANON — Sagamore Conference rivals Danville and Lebanon competed in a boys’ and girls’ basketball doubleheader last night. The host Tigers won both games.
Lebanon girls’ basketball coach Beth DeVinney wasn’t happy with the way her team played Wednesday night in a loss to Western.
Whatever she said in Thursday’s practiced work. The Class 3A No. 3 Tigers jumped out to a 15-0 lead three minutes into the game and moved to 3-0 in the Sagamore Conference with a 68-31 win against Danville.
“We came out much more focused,” DeVinney said. “It was a rough mid-week game for us, it just didn’t go very well. We responded well. We talked a lot in practice and did a lot of talking about what we needed to do better. We still turned the ball over way too much; we are just trying to hurry things. The problem is they are still learning my transition and my style of play and it is much faster than what they are used too. Early in the season we had a good feel about what was going on and somewhere along the way we lost that feel.”
From the opening tip, Lebanon controlled the pace of play.
Carly Greene got a putback and Katie Curtis scored five points in 13 seconds to make it 7-0 just a minute into the game.
The Tigers continued to press forward, making it 15-0 on a Curtis jumper with 5:07 left in the first quarter.
The basket was the 1,000th point of her career.
“That is a great accomplishment,” DeVinney said. “She came out today with much more focus and purpose. She did a great job early. She forced a little later on just trying to make things happen. ... But you just can’t say enough about Katie Curtis, she is someone you would want as a daughter.”
Danville finally got on the board with 4:01 left in the quarter on a
basket by Cami Collins.
The Tigers eventually led by 16 at the quarter and 30 at the half.
“They did the things that we told our team we couldn’t do,” Danville
coach Terry Hammons said. “They penetrated with the basketball and when they shot and missed, we didn’t block out. Blocking out has not been good for us this year and Lebanon exposed us. It gave them lots of momentum and we got caught with that deer in the headlights look.”
Lebanon led by as many as 42 in the second half.
The only question that remained was whether or not Danville would score as many points as Curtis — who finished with 28.
The Warriors broke the 28-point barrier with a 3-pointer by Allie Lake with 1:00 left.
Lebanon forced 25 turnovers and allowed only 10 Danville field goals.
“For us, the way our defense goes is the way our offense is going to go,” DeVinney said. “If we have to get into a half-court game there is so much more that goes into it. You have to have all pieces to the puzzle. It is great to have a big post, which we don’t have. So we have to make sure that we play our defense for 32 minutes because we are going to get some offense out of that. That is what we focused on.”
Hannah Newby led Danville with six points and Chelsea Gould had five for the Warriors, who fell to 6-3 on the season.
They play again Friday against Speedway.
“I really and truly think that although we were disappointed and it stung us a bit, that we will come out of the locker room using it as a learning experience,” Hammons said. “We have to learn from it watch the game tape and say this is why we have to do certain things.”
Along with Curtis’ 28, Carly Greene and Kristen Spolyar each scored 15 for the Tigers. Whitney Cosgray added six.
Lebanon is back in action Friday against Greenfield-Central.
Lebanon coach Albert Hendrix knew that Friday night’s game against the Class 3A No. 10 Danville Warriors would be the first real test for his team this season.
He had to have liked what he saw. The Class 3A No. 8 Tigers controlled the glass and forced Danville into foul trouble, leading them to a 65-56 victory.
“It was a big win for us,” Hendrix said. “I think Danville is the best team we played so far and certainly (head coach) Brian Barber does a great job. I felt like our kids laid it on the line tonight. We knew we were going to turn it over tonight, and that there pressure would hurt us. But our kids hung in there and fought because Danville’s kids just keep coming after you. It has always been that way and I am really happy with the effort we got from our kids tonight.”
Barber said that the Tigers’ physicality took Danville out of some of the things they wanted to do.
“Lebanon has a very good team, they are very physical,” Barber said. “Their defensive pressure took us out of some things we wanted to do on offense, you have to give them credit for that. It was just a typical Lebanon/Danville game — very physical. Lebanon has a good team and you have to give them credit.”
The game was back-and-forth early but Lebanon pulled out to an 18-9 lead early in the second quarter.
Lebanon held the lead for the remainder of the half, but Danville held the Tigers to just two points in the final 3:18 and used an 8-2 run to get within one at 28-27 at the break.
The main key of the run was turnovers. Danville forced the Tigers into eight second-quarter miscues.
“We were trying to make defense our best offense,” Barber said. “I thought in the second quarter it got us back in the game. We got some turnovers and got back in it. But they controlled the tempo for most of the game and that is why they won it.”
A jumper by Scott Amor to start the second half gave Danville its first and only lead of the game.
The Tigers responded with a 6-0 run and held the five-point lead throughout the quarter.
“I thought all of our guys moved the basketball tonight,” Hendrix said. “The turnovers were bad, but I still felt like, when we needed to get a score to keep the comfortable lead, we got it. They made a nice run and scored right out of the gate, then we went on a 6-0 run. I thought that our defense was the difference and we made some free throws down the stretch.”
Danville battled foul trouble all night and lost starting center Jackson Stone to his fifth foul with 3:29 left in the third quarter. Stone was 4-of-6 from the field for eight points, but only played 7:08.
Fellow starter Scott Amor fouled out in the fourth quarter, and the Warriors committed 29 fouls in the game, leading to 38 Lebanon free-throw attempts.
“He never got into a flow,” Barber said of Stone. “That is why we left him in there with four fouls. At that time we were going for broke. When he was in there he capitalized, so we put him back in there and rolled the dice. Jackson had a good game going other than that, but you have to give Lebanon credit, they beat us and Albert Hendrix has done a great job with those guys. They are a hungry team.”
Caleb Brannon hit two 3-pointers in an 8-2 run to start the fourth quarter that put the game out of reach.
Danville got no closer than eight in the final four minutes.
Avery Motes led the Warriors with 16 points, 15 coming in the fourth quarter. Ian Asher also finished in double figures with 13 points, but shot 3-of-16 from the field.
While the two teams are no longer in the same sectional, Barber said the sectional-like atmosphere will help his team, now 5-1.
“These kinds of games make you better,” Barber said. “Hopefully when the realignment comes we can get back in it with our Sagamore Conference rivals. It makes for a better sectional for everyone. I wish Lebanon the best, we won’t see them in the sectional but they have a great shot at it this year.”