STANFORD — Revenge can be sweet. For the Lincoln County girls Friday night, it was especially tasty.
Danville spoiled the Lady Patriots’ undefeated run of the district in the regular season, but they would not be denied a sweep in the girls 45th District Tournament, holding off the Lady Admirals 65-60 in the championship game.
Sydney Harris had a team-high 17 points with nine rebounds and three blocked shots and Emily Fox finished with 16 points, nine boards and four assists as Lincoln avenged a 70-51 loss to Danville on Feb. 10 to earn its fifth straight district title.
“After that loss, we knew we would have to work hard for a championship,” Lincoln coach Cassandra McWhorter said. “Danville ... I mean, Judie (Mason) has done a great job all year coaching those girls and having them ready. I still think they are one of the hottest teams in the region right now. They have so many weapons. You can’t just key in on Kasey (Young) and Essence (Grey) anymore.”
“And tonight was everything I expected. It was a great championship game. It was just good from start to finish, and we’re enjoying coming out on the winning end.”
Lincoln (21-9) trailed 57-56 midway through the fourth quarter but outscored Danville 9-3 over the final 3 minutes, 11 seconds. Freshman reserve Spencer Sims hit a jumper to put Lincoln on top to stay 58-57. Sims, who finished with six points, scored a layup off a backcourt pass from Fox with 58 ticks left to put the Lady Patriots up 63-59.
Danville (21-7) got no closer than three points the rest of the way.
“Good game. We hit our free throws, we win the ballgame,” Danville coach Judie Mason said. “That’s been our forte. So we’ve got to hit them. They’re free for a reason.”
“But I have no problem with it. Danville’s not been in this position in a long time. They played hard. They fought. I was proud of them. They did everything I asked them to do.”
Lincoln shot 48 percent (22 for 46) from the field and went 19 for 27 at the foul line. Danville shot just 35 percent (19 for 54) from the field and was 17 for 30 at the line.
The Lady Patriots got the night started with a 6-0 run, with Harris and Kourtney Belcher going inside for a bucket apiece and Ciara Saylor cashing in two free throws.
However, after the hot start, Lincoln went ice cold, opening the door for Danville. Jordan Leavell scored the Lady Admirals’ first goal with 4:46 left in the first to set the team off on a 7-0 run. C.J. McPherson followed with a 3-pointer, then Grey put up a jump shot for her first goal and a 7-6 Danville edge.
Lincoln had rebuilt its lead to 12-8 off baskets by Belcher and Fox before Young, who had 15 points, sank a free throw then closed the first with a 3-pointer for a 12-12 tie.
The lead changed hands six times in the second quarter. Young nailed her third trey with 3:22 to go in the half to ease Danville on top 23-22, only to have Lincoln close the half on a 10-4 run. Harris went inside to answer Young’s triple and jump start the Lady Patriots.
Lincoln led 28-27 with under a minute to go in the half, but Chansler Gilbert would hit for her third bucket of the period and Belcher followed with two free throws to extend the lead to 32-27 at the half.
Rachel Spangler, who had nine points and nine rebounds for Lincoln, collected the first goal of the second half for the night’s biggest margin, 34-27.
But just as they had in the first quarter, the Lady Admirals battled their way back. Lincoln was up 40-35 when Danville went on an 8-0 run. Grey got the run started with a layup and Leavell followed with her own bucket in the paint. Grey then went to the line for two free throws and Jordyn Perry closed the run with a bank shot for a 43-40 Lady Ad lead.
Danville took a 45-43 lead into the fourth quarter and made it 47-43 with a Leavell putback to start the final period.
The night of runs continued, with Lincoln outscoring Danville 11-2 over a span of 1:48. Harris picked up the first six points of the run, Fox drained a 3-pointer and Sims hit inside for a 54-49 Lincoln lead.
And, as expected, Danville answered back. The Lady Admirals outpointed Lincoln 8-2 midway through the fourth period, with Laken Grey and Leavell sinking two free throws apiece and Essence Grey tallying two baskets for a 57-56 advantage with 3:39 to go.
Lincoln would get the final run, however, using the 9-3 closing surge to claim the title and snap a 10-game winning streak by Danville, which was playing in the district final for the first time in four years.
“I was really proud of our girls and the effort, and every time Danville made a run, of stepping up and answering to that call,” McWhorter said. “We wanted to come in (region) as a champion and get a higher seed but I told the girls I’m just proud of them.
“Everybody, whether they stepped on the floor or not, had a part in this tonight, because,if we don’t have them, we’re not the team that we are every day in practice — we’re not the team that we are stepping out on the floor without them. I’m proud of the girls for how they pulled together, stuck together. They really fought through.”
Both Lincoln and Danville advance to next week’s 12th Region Tournament at Lincoln, and Mason is looking forward to playing on.
“I’m proud of my team, and we’ll be back here on Monday or Tuesday,” she said. “(We) played hard, Lincoln played hard. It was a good game tonight, and I hope we meet them again. If we meet them again, it will be in the region championship game.”
Lincoln outrebounded Danville 39-20.
The Lady Admirals had just eight turnovers to the Lady Patriots’ 21.
45th District Tournament
At Lincoln County
Danville 12 27 45 60
Lincoln County 12 32 43 65
DANVILLE (21-7) — Jordan Leavell 9, Jordyn Perry 2, Essence Grey 23, Laken Grey 5, Kasey Young 15, C.J. McPherson 6.
LINCOLN (19-13) — Sydney Harris 17, Kourtney Belcher 6, Ciara Saylor 2, Emily Fox 16, Rachel Spangler 9, Spencer Sims 6, Chansler Gilbert 7, Tiandra Hocker 2.