Daily photo by Gary Cosby Jr.|
Danville guard Bethany Evans struggles to get a pass off over intense pressure from Sheffield defenders Destiny Robinson, left, and Shameshia Jackson during the Class 3A regional semifinals at Wallace State-Hanceville on Thursday. Sheffield won 57-32.
First half dooms Danville
Lady Hawks can't overcome 38-7 halftime deficit
By Mark Edwards
firstname.lastname@example.org · 340-2461
HANCEVILLE — Danville won the second half Thursday night and gave a brief look at what could be a bright future for the school's girls basketball program.
Unfortunately for the Lady Hawks' hopes this year, the first half did them in.
Danville lost 57-32 to Sheffield in a Class 3A Northwest Regional semifinal, ending the Lady Hawks' season. Sheffield used a 29-0 first-half run to lead 38-7 at halftime.
About three minutes into the second half, Sheffield had built its lead to 45-9, and both teams unloaded their benches. Sheffield went with a mix of freshman and sophomore reserves, and Danville (18-14) inserted a lineup that included senior Bekah Boswell, freshman Sarah Terry and eighth-graders Lacey Evans, Kalani Cross and Ashley Nance. The trio of eighth-graders helped Danville Middle School post an unbeaten season this year.
The young lineup sparked a 14-0 run, and even though Sheffield eventually re-inserted all of its starters for much of the fourth quarter while Danville used a mix of almost everyone on its bench, the Lady Hawks won the second half 25-19.
"That's something we talked about in the locker room," Danville coach Paul Wilson said. "We said we couldn't win the game if we didn't win the second half."
Wilson said he didn't take out his older players because he didn't appreciate their effort. Instead, he did so to let them catch their breath.
The younger players took advantage of their opportunity to play. Nance finished with a team-high 12 points and five rebounds. Cross' four steals tied senior Bethany Evans for team-high honors. Lacey Evans, Bethany's sister, had a team-high three assists. Terry managed three points and a steal.
"To the credit of the young kids, they came in relaxed. And they're very athletic," Wilson said. "They're very, very athletic."
For at least part of the fourth quarter, the two teams matched starters again. The Lady Hawks' rejuvenated seniors played nearly even for the final period with Sheffield (24-11).
Bethany Evans led the charge, finishing with eight points, three rebounds and those four steals.
So how did Danville dig such a huge hole at the beginning?
Wilson took the blame for Danville playing a sagging zone defense, which Sheffield shot over consistently.
The Lady Bulldogs sank five 3-pointers in the first half.
Wilson said he watched at least six game films of Sheffield and didn't see the Lady Bulldogs show much ability to hit from long range.
"We packed in the zone, and to their credit, they made their 3-pointers," Wilson said. "Once they made a couple of 3's, they got in that press of theirs. We didn't quit, but they're very athletic."
With the press rolling, Sheffield forced 18 first-half turnovers and converted them into 24 points.
"Danville is a good shooting team, and we didn't want to get into a half-court game with them," Sheffield coach Robert Newton said. "Once we hit those 3's, that jump started our press, and we were able to get it in a running game. That's what we wanted."
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