His team was unbeaten, but Southwestern coach Steve Wright was worried going into the Warriors’ game Friday against winless Danville.
“We had not played in a week, the game didn’t get scheduled until Monday and I knew Danville was a lot better than people thought and had good, quick guard play,” said Wright.
The host Admirals (0-4) had perhaps their best offensive quarter of the season behind the play of senior guard Tryston Ford, who had 12 of his 21 points, to jump in front 17-12 after one frame before the Warriors dominated the second half to eventually win 63-47
After going 5 for 11 from the field in the first half, Danville misfired on 27 of 35 shots over the rest of the way, including 13 straight misses in the second half. Danville finished the game 13 for 46 from the field, a 28 percent mark — shooting under 30 percent from the field for the fourth consecutive game.
“It was one of those things where our effort was great. We executed what we wanted, but we just could not put the ball in the hoop again,” first-year Danville coach Andrew Zaheri said. “But give Southwestern credit for part of our shooting problems. They kept us guessing with the way they changed defenses. They do such a good job switching defenses and their length across the floor was hard for us to deal with.”
The speedy Ford had nine points in just over two minutes to turn a 7-6 Southwestern lead into a 15-9 Danville advantage. Wright neutralized Ford in the second quarter by going to a zone with a chaser on Ford that kept him from scoring the second stanza.
“We had to get Ford under control. He can go off on you and we had to chase him to break his rhythm,” Wright said.
At the same time, Southwestern center Rob Lewis got his rhythm going after Wright put him into the game. He finished with 11 points, but his physical presence controlled the inside for the Warriors (5-0), who shot 53 percent (25 for 47) from the field.
“Lewis is gradually getting the pads and helmet (from football) off and really gave us some good minutes,” Wright said. “Daulton Marlow (10 points) gave us another shot in the arm off the bench, and Justin Edwards (22 points) had his best offensive game of the year. Some others did not play as well as they have been, but defensively we were really good the second half, and we beat a team that is just going to keep getting better.”
Lewis tied the game at 19-all with 5:27 left in period two, only to have the Admirals go back on top 22-19 on a follow shot by Damir Karapandzic and free throw by Devonta Alcorn.
A 6-0 Southwestern run enabled the Warriors to lead 25-24 at halftime and a 10-2 run to open the second half sparked by David Kapinga to grab a 35-26 edge.
Danville was just 3 for 12 from the field in the third quarter, and Marlow’s back-to-back 3-pointers and basket on a fast break increased the lead to 43-30.
“We wanted to put ourselves in position at halftime to have a chance to win, and we did,” Zaheri said. “For 2 1/2 quarters, we gave Southwestern all they wanted. But they are one of the top teams in the 12th Region for a reason.
“They are so long when they run at you defensively, it’s hard. We had not seen that type of length before. If you have not seen it, it is hard to prepare for us in practice. And coach Wright does a really good job coaching. Always has, always will.”
Danville, which had 17 turnovers, didn’t have a field goal for 8:49 before Ford ended an 0-for-13 streak for the Ads with just 1:32 to play. Danville did go to the foul line 14 times in the fourth quarter.
Overall, the Admirals were 20 for 33 at the line, including 10 for 12 by Ford. Southwestern was 9 for 14 at the foul line.
Southwestern 12 25 43 63
Danville 17 24 31 47
SOUTHWESTERN (5-0) —David Kapinga 6, Justin Edwards 22, Isiah Collier 4, Adam Isaacs 5, Rob Lewis 11, Dylan Gaskins 3, Robbie Miller 2, Daulton Marlow 10.
DANVILLE (0-4) — Tryston Ford 21, Christian Gateskill-Fuqua 5, Rob Caudill 1, Damir Karanpandzic 3, Devonta Alcorn 6, Tanner Goodman 4, Alex Burnside 7.