COLUMBUS — It’s been a long time coming. The Danville Blue Devils wrapped up their first district basketball title since 1937 on Wednesday evening, overpowering the Africentric Nubians, 61-51, in the Division IV Central District final at the Columbus Fairgrounds Coliseum.
“It’s a tribute to the kids,” said Danville coach Doug Selvey. “They put in the work. They do the things, during the season and they do the things in the offseason to get to where they are. It’s a great feeling to have right now.”
Danville was led by Andy Payne with 22 points and Bryce Staats, who had 20. However, they had plenty of help.
“Bryce and Andy really played well.” said Selvey. “They came to play basketball today, and the rest of the kids did, too. I told the kids all season, ‘Understand your role. Do what you have to do.’ They understood their role today.”
With 5:59 to go in the game, Danville led by just five. But Ridge Durbin (six points) scored to get Danville’s final run started, holding Africentric to a pair of field goals down the stretch. In the meantime, the Blue Devils hit 11 of their final 14 foul shots to seal it.
“We watched (Africentric) two nights ago and we knew we had to box out to win this game,” said Danville senior Austin Hazen.
“I just knew that we had to win the inside battle tonight to get the game,” said Payne. “That’s what I tried to help us do.”
The Blue Devils controlled the ball well throughout the game, thwarting numerous steal attempts by the Nubians. Danville committed 11 turnovers for the game.
“You have to be strong with the ball,” said Payne. “They were a little weaker than us. We are a more physical team and we had to use that, tonight.”
“That’s what AAU basketball does for you.” said Selvey. “It makes kids better in the off season. We have that mental toughness that a lot of teams don’t have.”
“We had to make crisp passes, tough passes and just make it happen,” said Payne.
One thing is certain: The Blue Devils are afraid of nobody and they are a team to be reckoned with as the remaining teams get ready for regionals next week.
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