DANVILLE — The Centennial Stars rolled into Danville on Monday night and ran straight into a brick wall.
That turned out to be the rock-solid defense of the Blue Devils, who smothered the Stars with a 15-2 start, en route to a 56-34 drubbing in girls nonconference basketball action.
The Devils were 7-of-10 from the floor with only four turnovers in the first quarter. Meanwhile, the Stars did little to help their own cause with nine first-quarter turnovers and a single field goal by senior forward Amanda Hoover (14 points). Centennial was a total of 13-of-41 with 26 turnovers for the game.
“With our full-court pressure we got them to turnover the ball,” Danville coach Christian Toombs said. “We also did a great job converting on those turnovers.”
Forward Aubrey Hazen led all scorers with a near-perfect 8-of-9 from the floor for a total of 17 points. Hazen added three rebounds along with some scrappy play under the boards.
“It gets rough but I think it’s more fun when you have an aggressive game,” said Hazen. “It makes me work harder. We just pressured (Centennial) right off the get-go. We just pressured them, which made them rush their passes and that made them rush their shots.”
Hazen’s hard work on her shooting really shined through in this game.
“It has definitely improved a lot,” said Hazen. “I think, in the last game, I missed eight shots so this is a good improvement. I was a bit nervous, so I tried not to think about it as much.”
Toombs knows what can happen if Hazen can perform like that in every game.
“If she can play like that we’ve told her all along that she would be one of the better players in the league,” said Toombs. “She just needs to have a little bit more confidence, Hopefully, a night like this will turn her.”
Danville’s Hannah Matheny added six points, a team best five rebounds, four of the Blue Devil’s eight steals along with four assists.
“In that first half we came out ready to play,” said Matheny. “We were in our transition. We were in our spots where we needed to be — where our coaches told us. We played good defense. We kept the ball where it was needed to be. Our defense was making (Centennial) rush their shots. They couldn’t get an open look so our defense was the key tonight.”
“Hannah plays exceptionally well every night,” said Toombs. “She’s the kind of kid who will do anything that you ask and she will do it as hard as she can.”
With 1:20 to go in the third quarter, Danville expanded their lead to 41-14 — their biggest of the game — after guard Olivia Rice hit a quick pair of jumpers. Rice had nine points, and four rebounds for the game. She added five assists.
“Olivia did a nice job dishing the basketball off, not turning it over and breaking their press,” said Toombs. “That was the key. We broke their press because they came at us the entire game with full-court pressure to trap us and we broke it.”
Junior Schae Frazee was 4-of-5 from the floor and wound up with nine points for Danville, along with a rebound and a couple of steals.
In Danville, the key is the defense and, when it is in gear, they are a tough adversary for anyone to overcome.
“We only gave up eight points at halftime,” said Toombs. “Last week, we only gave up seven to Northridge at the half. If we’re playing defense well, we can be in ball games.”