COLUMBUS — There is a terrible injustice in the world of sports that great teams so often end their season in defeat. Sometimes, it just doesn’t seem fair.
The dream season finally ended for the most successful Danville Blue Devils basketball team in three-quarters of a century. The Blue Devils (22-5) went down to defeat at the hands of the Fairfield Christian Academy Knights, 61-48, in Tuesday’s OHSAA Division IV regional semifinal match, played at Ohio Dominican University.
The Knights were led by 6-foot-3 guard Steven Carpenter, who scored 31 points and landed five out of seven 3-pointers, going an incredible 10-of-13 (76.9 percent) from the floor.
“Yeah, (Carpenter) is a tough player,” said Danville coach Doug Selvey. “Even from the beginning of the year, we had an eye on them, figuring that we would match up with these guys at some point in the year as we got to see them in the season. Steve is a heck of a basketball player. I’ve been impressed with him from the first time I saw him as a freshman and now he’s a junior. Big players step up in big moments and he really, really did. We tried to keep fresh legs on him. They set so many screens for him. He’s so good at reading screens. His basketball IQ is off the charts. He’s exceptional.”
The Knights grabbed the lead right out of the box, with Carpenter landing three of his 3s in the opening quarter. Defensively, the Knights were able to hold Danville guard Bryce Staats (23 points) to a single field goal in the first half. Danville’s 6-foot-4 forward Andy Payne (17 points) fought for his team’s two first-period scores, and the Blue Devils found themselves down, 15-4, after the first eight minutes of basketball.
With 14-of-47 shooting from the floor (29.8 percent) Danville could not mount a comeback. Payne continued to attack the basket in the second quarter. He scored once off a Staats feed, landing three more buckets before the half. But Danville still had no answer for Carpenter, who hit a 3-pointer as well as a three-point play. He then fed forward Tyler Stevens, who scored to give the Knights a 24-12 lead.
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