COLUMBUS — Danville High School boys basketball coach Doug Selvey spent the last week likening his team’s Division IV Central District Semifinal against Newark Catholic to the biblical story of David and Goliath.
On one side were the Blue Devils, winners of six games this season. On the other side was the Green Wave, who were sporting just one loss. Despite a great effort, the “David” in this tale didn’t prevail.
Danville, the No. 11 seed, played strong for 18 minutes, but a 17-0 third-quarter run lifted No. 1 seed Newark Catholic ahead for good and propelled it to a 75-44 victory at the Columbus Fairgrounds Coliseum on Tuesday night. With the win, the Green Wave advance to the Division IV District Final on Saturday.
“I was actually pretty pleased, especially with the first half,” said Selvey. “The way we shot it was something I really didn’t see coming. The kids played well. We weren’t star struck like I thought we would be.
“We wanted it to be close in the fourth quarter, and we didn’t get that, but we played hard. We have a lot of heart. They had a lot of confidence, which is what we had been talking about all week. I believe in these kids and I know they believe in each other.”
Danville held its only lead of the game early in the first quarter after senior Nick Stover hit a 3-pointer just over a minute in. Matt Dawson responded with a pair of 3s of his own to help put Newark Catholic ahead to stay, though the Blue Devils kept it close. Shaun Durbin and Stover added 3s to keep the lead close, and a bucket by Durbin with 2:45 left made it a three-point deficit, 14-11. The Green Wave closed the quarter by scoring seven straight points and taking a 21-11 lead.
The lead was short-lived, however, as Danville got a 3-pointer by Bryce Staats to start the second quarter. And, after a layin by Phil Taylor, the Blue Devils’ Weston Severns and Robbie Moreland contributed back-to-back buckets to cut the lead to five, 23-18. Newark Catholic responded with a 6-2 spurt to go up by nine with 1:36 to go, but Danville got a pair of buckets by Moreland and free throws from Durbin to pull within six, 32-26, with 24 seconds to play in the half. Dawson scored a layin with one second left to push the lead back to eight.
“We had a tremendous effort to keep constant pressure on them,” said Newark Catholic coach Drew Meister. “We wanted to wear them down a little bit, and we were scrappy. ... Our defensive intensity was producing so much for us. ... They hit some big shots in that first half to keep it close.”
Dawson scored a layup to open the third quarter and push the lead back to 10, but four straight free throws by Stover pulled Danville within six, 36-30, with 6:44 to go. At that point, it looked like Newark Catholic was going to have a fight on their hands all the way down the stretch.
“I think we had them on the ropes,” said Selvey. “We had them right where we wanted them, but ultimately, it came down to experience.”
It all fell apart for the Blue Devils, however. They shot just 5-of-24 from the field in the second half, while the Green Wave seemed to just be warming up. Newark Catholic scored 17 points in a row during the third quarter and opened up a 23-point lead. A jumper by Stover just slowed them down, and the Green Wave led 55-32 after three.
“They are a very, very fast team,” said Selvey. “I would say a majority of that third quarter was spent in transition, and we didn’t have people back. They had a lot of breakaways.”
Danville finally got into a little more offensive rhythm in the fourth quarter, getting six points from Staats, but Newark Catholic was simply too strong. The Green Wave posted 20 points in the quarter, including nine straight in a two-minute span late in the game.
Nate Adams led Newark Catholic with 15 points and 11 rebounds. He also had four steals and four assists. Kevin Cox also had 15 points. As a team, the Green Wave registers 21 steals and 19 assists for the game, and outrebounded Danville, 38-27. Dawson chipped in 14 points, seven steals and five assists; James Moerman had 11 points, five rebounds and seven steals; and Danville resident Derek Adam had 10 points and four assists for Newark Catholic.
“They are the type of team we’ve struggled with this year,” Selvey said. “They really pressure you. Fredericktown did it to us and they did it to us. They did their home work. ... They are like the Energizer bunny; they don’t stop.”
Stover finished with 13 points for Danville. Durbin dropped in 10 points and had three assists, and Staats had nine points. Moreland and Severns each had six points apiece, and Severns had eight rebounds.
While Newark Catholic is moving on to big and better things, Danville will look back at Tuesday’s contest as a positive experience. With several underclassmen seeing playing time, Selvey hopes to use it as a building block for next season.
“As this program builds, we’ll be back here,” Selvey said. “I just told the kids, ‘You’ve got 30 days until we start again.’ ... This is huge for us — a sectional championship and a banner up on the wall — that’s huge. It is huge for the community. I’ve said over and over that I want the community involved because I truly believe that they can believe in this program. I’ve seen them believe in football, so I know they can believe in us.”