Witten's free throw gives Danville 49-48 win over Boyle

February 04, 2004|JILL ERWIN

Danville freshman Rich Witten stepped to the free-throw line with 2.1 seconds left in a tie game with rival Boyle County and looked up at the rim.

Witten had already missed the first free throw, clanging it off the back of the rim. After a Boyle timeout, however, Witten calmly sank the biggest free throw of his career, giving Danville a 49-48 win over Boyle and a chance at the district title.

"I just stepped up there, relaxed and thought it through," Witten said. "I felt pretty confident."

"Rich is a very mature young man," Danville coach Craig Pippen said. "He's very calm by nature, but he's also very competitive and that blend makes him special. There was no doubt in my mind that he was going to bury that second one."

Witten's free throw was the latest in a string of clutch plays by Danville that gave the Ads the victory, including a 3-pointer by Chad Bartleson with 59 seconds left that tied the game at 48.


"I was confident on that 3 because I wanted to win bad because it was Boyle County," Bartleson said.

With the win, Danville (8-11, 4-1 45th District) made Friday's game at Lincoln County the game that will determine who has the No. 1 seed in the district tournament. Boyle (5-11, 1-4) falls into a tie with Casey County for third in the district seeding race.

At the beginning of the game, it never looked like Danville was going to be in position to have any last-second victory. Boyle scored the final 12 points of the first quarter, including 3-pointers from Blake Jones and Derek Vonckx, to take a 19-7 lead. Danville was just 3-for-13 from the field in the first quarter.

"They were just doing things we hadn't been working on," Pippen said. "We kind of came in out of sync. I let them know they were going to have their runs, we were going to have ours, but we'll have the last say. It just happened to work out that way tonight."

It worked out that way because Danville got its run in the second quarter. The Ads scored the first 15 points of the second period, including six of Phillip Dunn's 13 points, to take a 22-19 lead with 2:18 left in the first half.

From that point on, it was nip and tuck as neither team led by more than five points the remainder of the game.

Danville led 41-37 after a 3-pointer from Ronnie Hawkins with 5:58 to play, but Blake Jones scored six unanswered points, his first since the first quarter, to put Boyle up 43-41. Jones finished with 15 points.

Derek Vonckx hit two free throws with 1:10 to play, giving him 18 points and giving Boyle a 48-45 lead. Bartleson's shot tied the game, and after a missed Boyle basket, Dunn called for a timeout while he was being tied up by Vonckx and David White.

Witten followed his own shot to get to the foul line

Danville inbounded the ball and worked for a basket. Dunn eventually drove the lane and dished to the left side to Witten. He put up a 3-pointer, but it rimmed out and Witten rushed in to get the offensive rebound. He was fouled by White on the play with 2.1 seconds left.

"It was real crucial to not just fall back and let them get the rebound," Witten said. "It's real important to follow your shot and get any offensive rebound you can."

Boyle coach Andy Moberly tried to ice the freshman, calling a full timeout before the first free throw. Witten missed the first off the back of the rim, and Moberly called another timeout. But Witten made the second one, and Boyle was forced to go the length of the floor with 2.1 seconds.

The inbounds pass went long to Vonckx, but Bartleson rose up from behind and tipped it away.

"The thing was, we should have never been in that position," Moberly said. "If we know who No. 22 (Bartleson) is, we're probably never in that position. If No. 22 scores a 2 at the end of the game, we're up one. If he hits a shot falling backwards, pat him on the back and go to the other end because he hit a great shot. But heck, he's standing wide open."

Danville was 20-for-48 from the field for 42 percent, while Boyle hit 39 percent (15 of 39) from the field. Boyle connected on 13 of 20 free throws for 65 percent, and Danville was 4-for-9 for 44 percent.

The Admirals won the rebounding battle 31-28 behind seven from Dunn, and both teams turned the ball over 18 times.

BOYLE (5-11) - Blake Jones 15, Brian Staed 2, Andrew Bertram 2, Brandon Smith 2, Ian Young 2, Derek Vonckx 18, David White 7.

DANVILLE (8-11) - Chad Bartleson 15, Ben Carter 8, Phillip Dunn 13, Ronnie Hawkins 10, Rich Witten 3.

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