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Lady Pats fall short in 45th District battle

STANFORD — The Lincoln County girls basketball team mounted a furious battle to try and upset the 45th District’s top seed, but the Lady Patriots fell short in the effort, with visiting Danville completing a 7-0 regular-season sweep with a 53-42 win Friday night at J.C. Eddleman Gymnasium.

Danville, which already had the No. 1 seed in the district locked up before Friday’s matchup, improved to 19-7 overall. Lincoln dropped to 12-15 overall and 4-3 in the district.

Lincoln opened on a 4-0 run only to have Danville answer with a 20-6 scoring run to go on top 20-10 at the end of the first quarter. The Lady Admirals never relinquished the lead, leading by as many as 13 points. However, the Lady Patriots trimmed the deficit to single digits in the second, third and fourth quarters, pulling within 43-39 midway through the fourth off a Haleigh Releford bucket.

Unfortunately for Lincoln, that would be as close as the Lady Patriots would get as Danville closed on a 10-3 run to shut the door on the upset bid.

While disappointed in the loss, Lady Patriot coach Cassandra McWhorter was not disappointed in her team.

“I’m very, very, very pleased with how we performed tonight and the effort that was there,” she said. “There’s been some games where we, as a coaching staff, have been like, ‘Where’s the effort?’ We would try to pull it from them, try to get it out of them. I don’t feel like we lost tonight because of the effort the kids gave. I’m very proud of how they fought back.”

Lincoln had three players in double figures in the game with Releford, Chloe Ralston and Lydia Rice all finishing with 10 points. Rice also had five rebounds.

Releford and Savannah Robbins got Lincoln off to the 4-0 start with back-to-back buckets, Releford’s opening shot coming off a steal.

Camryn Preston, who led all scorers with 19 points for Danville, would end the Lady Admirals’ opening scoring drought with 5:31 on the clock, bombing in the first of her three 3’s in the first period to ignite a 17-3 run which put Danville on top to stay, 20-10. 

“The first quarter we played really hard until about a little bit over the midway point and we had just a couple shots that didn’t fall,” said McWhorter. “It was kind of like at Mercer County the other night. We came out and we played ready and we got great looks and a couple shots didn’t fall. And then it was kind of like they just went on a little silent run and you look up and, the next thing you know, your lead is gone and we’re down 10 at the end of the first quarter.”

Danville posted its largest lead of the game, 25-12, with 5:52 to play in the first half after a Lara Akers 3-pointer and a Tyliah Bradshaw bucket.

The Lady Pats had the margin back to single digits before the half. Rice knocked down two shots in the paint and Ralston scored a putback to make it 26-20. Danville took a 30-22 lead into the break.

Lincoln was within 32-29 with 3:32 to go in the third quarter thanks to a three-point play and two free throws by Robbins and a Releford layup. The Lady Patriots struggled offensively the rest of the third, though, getting only one more shot to fall – an Ally Lynn 3-pointer – as the Lady Ads took a 39-32 lead into the final frame.

Danville reopened a 43-32 advantage in the fourth quarter after a Preston field goal and two Desiree Tandy free throws. Lincoln would surge once again, with Rice and Releford each getting a bucket and Ralston nailing a 3 to make it 43-39 with 4:42 to play.

But Lincoln got no closer, with the Ralston trey the team’s final field goal. Preston, Bradshaw and Ahyana Burnett scored a bucket apiece for Danville before the final buzzer to secure the win.

“Very proud of how we fought back, the second quarter especially,” McWhorter said. “The third quarter we beat them by one. The fourth quarter I’d liked to have seen a couple more of the looks we had go down, but I can’t talk enough about how proud I am of the effort they gave tonight and how they stepped up.”

The Lady Patriots shot 32 percent from the field, going 17-for-53, 3-for-15 from 3-point range. Lincoln was 5-for-6 at the foul line.

The Lady Admirals finished at 41 percent from the field, going 20-for-49, 6-for-16 from 3. At the line, Danville was 7-for-11.

Danville picked up a win on the glass as well, outrebouncing Lincoln 28-24. Robbins had five boards for Lincoln. Tandy led Danville with nine.

“They outrebounded us by four, but a much better job on rebounding on our part,” said McWhorter. “A big focus for us after the Mercer County game … we gave up so many offensive rebounds. I wanted to keep it 15 and under. We gave up 12 offensive boards tonight and I think they only had two or three offensive rebounds the second half, which was huge.”

Danville had 19 turnovers and 15 steals to Lincoln’s 21 turnovers and 11 steals.

“Something I was very pleased with tonight was assists,” said McWhorter. “We had 12 assists tonight. We’ve been talking more about the ball movement and doing a good job of being unselfish. Very, very pleased with how unselfish we were with the basketball. I thought Abby (Lane) and Ally (Lynn) from the last time we played Danville to this time really stepped up and helped handle the ball a lot. They only had two turnovers between the both of them. When you’re handling that ball with that much pressure on you … I thought they did a really good job of stepping up and taking care of it.”

At Lincoln Co.

Danville 20 10 9 14 – 53

Lincoln 10 12 10 10 – 42

DANVILLE (19-7, 7-0) – Lara Akers 6, Jenna Akers 8, Camryn Preston 19, Ahyana Burnett 6, Tyliah Bradshaw 6, Deisree Tandy 8.

LINCOLN (12-15, 4-3) – Haleigh Releford 10, Chloe Ralston 10, Savannah Robbins 9, Ally Lynn 3, Lydia Rice 10.