DELAWARE — After getting off to a sputtering start, the Danville High School girls basketball team kicked its scoring machine into gear on Tuesday night. The Blue Devils thumped Grove City Christian, 57-29, in their Division IV Central District Sectional Tournament opening round game at Delaware Hayes High School.
Tracy Payne (23 points) and Hannah Matheny (12 points) led the Blue Devils (15-6), who had waited a week and a half to play their first tournament game. The Blue Devils were out of sync and were actually down 16-12 early in the second quarter.
“It was hard coming off a week and a half where we haven’t played,” said Payne. “We started off a little slow but, after that, we got the job done. We worked all week on just bettering ourselves on defense and offense. We were just trying to progress on positive things. We were a bit rusty and we weren’t ready to go.”
The wait took its toll on the Blue Devils, including forward Ashlee Townsend.
“It was a long bus ride,” said Townsend. “Really long.”
“We tried to focus and, once we started, I thought we played pretty well in spots,” said Danville coach Scott Ewing. “We’ve got a long way to go for the next game.”
The Eagles’ offense quickly faltered in the middle of the second quarter and Payne found her shooting range, finishing the first half with 12 points. All of teammate Kaleigh Conner’s eight points, including a pair of 3-pointers, were scored in the first half and their efforts helped the Blue Devils build a 32-18 lead at the half.
“I told them that we needed to buckle down a bit and run our offense,” said Ewing. “We were a little sluggish. We were trying to force some things. We tried to just run our offense and take what they gave us and then we got some back door cuts. Also, Kaleigh hit a couple of 3s early for us.”
“We’re really good at picking each other up,” said Townsend. “ So, at halftime, we just got on each other about it.”
Leading, 36-25 midway through the third, Danville went on an 18-0 run. Payne scored nine of those points, including when she took the feed from Townsend and hit her only 3-pointer of the game. Matheny chipped in six points during that spurt.
“We just need to keep working on our offense, getting our shots to fall and just keep making ourselves better,” said Payne.
“I think everyone realizes that it is going to get a lot harder,” said Townsend. “I think we woke up today and, now, we are ready to play. We’re going to push each other harder in practice.”
Danville now has another week to prepare for its next opponent — the Gilead Christian Eagles. The two teams will play on Tuesday at Westerville Central High School, starting at 8 p.m.
“The games come quicker and stronger,” said Ewing. “I was telling the girls, ‘We have tomorrow off and then we have six days to prepare for Gilead Christian.’ We beat them earlier in the year, so they’re going to want some revenge.”