Somerset sinks Ads for All 'A' title

February 02, 2004|JILL ERWIN

Danville had what it thought was the perfect game plan against Somerset Friday night in the championship of the 12th Region All "A" Classic.

But Somerset shot holes all through it.

The Briar Jumpers hit six first-half 3-pointers on the way to opening a 40-25 halftime lead. Host Danville made a second-half rally, but Somerset hit its free throws at the end to hold on to a 73-61 victory and its fourth consecutive All "A" regional title.

"We were in a matchup zone to keep them on the perimeter," Pippen said. "They stayed on the perimeter, but they were hitting everything they threw up."

They didn't hit everything, but the Jumpers hit enough to pull away early. Somerset (10-7) hit 14 of 25 first-half shots, a 56 percent mark, and had five different players sink a 3-pointer.


The Jumpers led Danville (6-11) by as many as 13 points in the first quarter, and that lead grew to 18 midway through the second.

Danville didn't help its cause any by missing free throws in the first half. The Ads were just 1-for-6 at the foul line in the first quarter and finished the half 5-for-15 from the line.

"Those were huge," Pippen said. "I'm more concerned about the effort part of the game than I am misses and makes, but that was a big part of the outcome of the game.

"I think when we got down early, it took a little of our confidence away and it took a little energy away. They have to understand that regardless of who makes what run, we've got to counter that with defense and make our own run."

Danville had one of those runs in the second half. After a first half in which Danville turned the ball over 10 times, it turned its defense on and forced Somerset into some miscues of its own.

Jumpers led by 20 before Danville got going

The Jumpers led by 15 at the half and scored the first five points of the second half to take a 45-25 lead with 6:17 to play in the third quarter. But suddenly Danville snapped out of it. Chad Bartleson hit a 3-pointer to start a 13-3 run that got the Ads within 10 at 48-38.

Somerset stretched its lead back to 15, but Eric Caldwell hit a shot and was fouled as the buzzer went off and connected on the ensuing free throw to get Danville back within 12. Somerset had seven turnovers in the period compared to four in the first half.

Danville got to within seven points on a basket from Ronnie Hawkins and two free throws from freshman Rich Witten with 5:30 left in the game. Somerset hit back-to-back field goals, but those were the last baskets the Jumpers would hit. Caldwell's 3-pointer with 2:47 left drew Danville within seven at 66-59. However, Somerset hit seven of eight free throws the rest of the way to close out the game.

"My hat's off to coach Pippen and his kids because they showed a lot of heart," Thacker said. "They kept coming. They just wouldn't go away. (Witten) played a hell of a game. He knocked down shots, hit free throws and did things to bring that team back."

Witten had a big game for Danville, scoring 12 points and grabbing a team-high nine rebounds. He also was 8-for-9 at the free throw line.. Pippen said the freshman has impressed him with his work ethic.

"Rich Witten has got a huge heart," Pippen said. "He works so hard and he's the perfect example of 'hard work pays off.' It's going to pay off even more for him now."

Bartleson led Danville with 17 points and he hit three 3-pointers. Caldwell had 10 points and Steven Gray added seven rebounds while Phillip Dunn had five.

Danville finished the game 20 of 64 (31 percent) from the field. The Ads were 11-for-13 on free throws in the second half to raise their game percentage to 57 percent.

Somerset hit 56 percent of its field goals in the game, and also connected on 27 of 38 free throws for a 71 percent mark. The Jumpers were led by Ray Norman's 21 points, while three other players also reached double figures.

Now Danville has district games with Boyle, Casey and Lincoln counties coming up this week.

"The challenge is bouncing back and understanding that we do have big district games," Pippen said. "We're 2-1 in the district and we're in a position to get a high seed and that's what we're looking for."

Central Kentucky News Articles