A season ago, the Danville boys basketball team advanced all the way to the state semifinals.
If Thursday night was any indication, the Bears are poised for another deep state tournament run this season.
Danville (21-3) jumped to an early lead and then held off a second-half Lone Tree rally on its way to a 63-46 win in a matchup of 2013 state tournament qualifiers in a Class 1A final at Washington High School.
The win sends Danville to Saturday’s Class 1A substate final where they will face Easton Valley at 7 p.m. at West High for a berth in the state tournament.
Lone Tree ended its season at 16-8.
“We’ve got a big board at home and it just says, ‘One game at a time,’ ” Danville coach Ken Laffoon said. “Lone Tree was up there on the board and we’ll go home tonight and wipe it down and put Easton Valley up there. We just take it one at a time.”
Danville snapped an early 6-6 tie with a 10-1 run to close the first quarter.
Four Bears scored during the run that spanned the final 3:03 of the opening quarter and gave Danville a 16-7 lead.
“One of the things that we talked about yesterday at practice was I said we had to be right with them at the end of the first quarter, and we weren’t,” Lone Tree coach Tom Squiers said. “They are a very good basketball team. They are very disciplined, they play great defense, and I kind of knew that when we were down 12-14 it would take a monumental effort by our team to overcome that deficit.”
Danville pushed its lead to 24-9 two minutes into the second quarter as junior Mason Speer single-handedly put together an 8-2 run to open the quarter.
Speer scored on an alley-oop pass eight seconds into the quarter, hit a 3-pointer a minute later, and then hit three free throws after being fouled while shooting a 3-pointer to put the Bears up 24-9 with six minutes left in the half.
Speer finished with a game-high 18 points for Danville, while Hunter Peebler added 17, and Connor Hoelzen had 14.
“Mason has really worked on all the aspects of his game,” Lafoon said. “Last year he was more of a spot-up shooter, but this year he has the ability to put the ball on the floor and that helps open some other things up for us.”
Danville took its biggest lead of the game, 39-22, on a Peebler 3-pointer less than two minutes into the third quarter, but Lone Tree rallied.
The Lions scored the next eight points to trim the lead to 39-30 on back-to-back baskets by senior Trenton Gosnell.
Danville stopped the run with a basket by Hoelzen but Lone Tree responded again, getting as close as six at 41-35 on a 3-pointer by freshman Jovonte Squiers.
“We got away from what we were doing a little bit, and when you play a good team like Lone Tree and you don’t score for three or four minutes because you aren’t taking the best shots, and they get right back in the game,” Lafoon said. “What happened, they got right back in the game.”
Danville got a basket by Peebler with 40 seconds left in the third quarter to take a 43-35 lead in the fourth quarter and put the game away with a 12-4 run to open the fourth.
Lone Tree missed three free throws during the Bears’ run to open the final quarter and finished 8-of-17 from the charity stripe.
“I’ve got to give our kids a lot of credit. They cut it to six, and I don’t know what we shot from the free-throw line but it wasn’t very good, and that was key,” Tom Squiers said. “We cut it to six or eight and went to the free-throw line and we get nothing out of it, and they come down and score. When you aren’t getting anything on offense and you aren’t getting the stops, you are in trouble as a basketball team, and that’s kind of what happened, I thought, the last 12 minutes of the game.”
Senior Trenton Gosnell led Lone Tree with 18 points, while Squiers added 11 for the Lions.
Matt Wieland chipped in with seven points and eight rebounds.
“I can’t fault or kids’ effort, I thought they played hard,” Tom Squiers said. “We just didn’t shoot the ball very well from the free throw line and we had some costly turnovers.”
LONE TREE (46) – Matt Wieland 2-7 3-6 7, Nick Viner 1-8 3-4 5, Trenton Gosnell 7-15 1-3 18, Travis Gillham 2-3 0-0 4, Shay Hudachek 0-1 1-1 1, Thomas Viner 0-1 0-0 0, Michael Schmidt 0-1 0-0 0, Jovonte Squiers 5-10 0-3 11. Totals 17-46 8-17 46.
DANVILLE (63) -Mason Speer 5-8 5-5 18, Dillon Sanchez 1-5 1-2 3, Mason Lorber 1-1 0-1 2, Dylan Criswell 0-0 1-2 1, Kolton Jackson 3-6 2-3 8, Conner Hoelzen 5-12 2-2 14, Hunter Peebler 7-13 1-4 17. Totals 22-45 12-19 63.
|Lone Tree||7||13||15||11||— 46|
3-point field goals – LT 4-15 (N. Viner 0-4, Gosnell 3-7, Hudacehk 0-1, T. Viner 0-1, Squiers 1-2) DAN 7-22 (Speer 3-6, Sanchez 0-1, Jackson 0-1, Hoelzen 2-8, Peebler 2-7). Rebounds – LT 26 (Wieland 8) DAN 31 (Peebler 8). Turnovers – LT 14, DAN 10. Total fouls – LT 18, DAN 12. Fouled out – None. Technicals – None.