DANVILLE — What a difference a year makes.
If Tuesday night is any indication, this is going to be an exciting year for Danville girls basketball. With guards Katelyn Walls (35 points) and freshman Bri Staats (25 points) leading the way, the Blue Devils overwhelmed visiting Marion Catholic, 77-38, in the season opener for both teams.
“We really guarded,” said Danville coach Shane Henry, whose team had a whopping 26 steals. “We didn’t turn it over much. Our guards are really solid and our post players do a much better job than they get credit for. They deny reversals. Kate gets nine steals and she earns them, but that’s everyone doing their job together.”
For Staats, playing on the varsity is a whole new world, but she seems to be taking to it very well.
“It’s a lot faster,” said Staats, who made a trio of 3-pointers. “Last year (in middle school) the competition was slower and it just wasn’t as good. This year, we move a lot faster and we play a lot better defense.”
“Bri Staats guarded today,” said Henry. “That’s probably the first time in her life that she has ever set down and guarded. In junior high, you don’t have to guard like that. As a freshman, every day, she is starting to understand a little bit more that, ‘OK, I need to set down and guard.’ She’s picking the speed up and her offense has always been fine. Her defense tonight, well, I think some things clicked with her.”
It wasn’t just defense. Staats and her senior teammate, Walls, who dropped in six 3-pointers of her own, did just as well offensively.
“We shot well,” said Henry, whose girls already had a comfortable 43-19 lead by halftime. “Walls flat scored, start to finish. She sat the last 6 1/2 minutes. I’ve seen her get it going, but I have never seen her get it going and keep it going like that. She had 22 in the first half against East Knox last year, then we slowed it down. Tonight, we just kind of let her play. We had to sit her at a point, but she earned all the ones she got tonight.”
“We just pushed the ball and we went at a real fast pace,” said Walls. “We were really good on defense and we forced a lot of turnovers. The team got me a lot of open shots, so that’s why I was so successful on those shots.”