By Scott Dudinskie
The Daily Item
FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP —
Thursday night’s Heartland Athletic Conference crossover against Southern Columbia turned into Siobhan Bross’s kind of game.
With Danville trailing early, the defensive whiz was able to do what she does best: fly around the court, dart into passing lanes and wreak all manner of havoc.
However, the senior would agree that a 12-point deficit after just five minutes was a bit steep for her liking. Even she would have to question why she was still playing as though her shorts were on fire down 15 midway through the third quarter.
The payoff might have been leaving everything on the court. That is, if the Ironmen hadn’t stormed back to take the lead and ultimately shock unbeaten Southern — and everyone in the Tigers’ new gym — with an epic 48-47 win.
“It was all about the effort that we put forth, and having faith in our teammates for sure,” said Bross. “That’s what you’ve got to do, work as a team to get there.”
Danville (5-0) overcame the Tigers’ 55 percent first-half shooting and Southern senior Kayla Lavella nearly matching her 21.6 scoring average by halftime. The Tigers made just 4 of 20 second-half shots (1 of 12 in the fourth quarter) and Lavella added just four points to the 20 she had at the break.
“At halftime I told the girls, ‘We’re up 32-18 but this game is far from over,’” said first-year Southern coach Kevin Collins. “(The Ironmen) adjusted well and it was tough getting a point in the second half.”
Danville erased a 36-21 deficit in a little more than a quarter’s time (15 seconds more to be precise) when senior Kylie Romeo buried a tying 3-pointer from the top-right side of the key. The 22-7 Ironmen run began with seven consecutive points from Donie Ann Keeley, and continued with four straight buckets in the paint ahead of Romeo’s trey.
“We got a great second half out of Donie Ann Keeley, offensively and defensively,” said Danville coach Steve Moser. “She hit a couple outside shots and it opened up our inside a little bit. That was key.”
Ironmen freshman post Amber Renz, who leads the team at 15.5 ppg, had nine of her 16 points and eight of her game-high 11 rebounds in the fourth quarter. She drilled three free throws for a 46-45 lead with 2 minutes left and, after Southern’s Mackenzie Clark calmly answered with a pair of fouls on the other end, followed up her own miss in traffic to make it 48-47 at 1:30.
Both teams missed four free throws in the last half-minute. The Tigers missed on four in the final five seconds, while Danville missed three in the same span.
“Am I disappointed we lost? Yeah. Who wouldn’t be,” said Collins. “But my kids played with a lot of heart. I think we just got tired at the end.”
“We didn’t quit,” said Moser. “It was a good team effort, and it’s a young team, too; they don’t have that kind of experience. I’m happier than heck for them.”
Southern led 10-2 less than four minutes in after consecutive buckets by Clark and back-to-back treys by Mallory Tomaschik. From that point, Southern’s scoring came almost exclusively from Lavella. The senior swing made every Tigers field goal from the middle of the first quarter until the 3:11 mark of the third when Tomaschik scored on a drive.
Lavella shot 8 of 11 for her 20 first-half points, which trumped the Ironmen’s 18 on 8 of 29 shooting.
“At halftime Coach (Moser) told us we had to win the third quarter to win the game, and that it was all about the effort,” said Bross, who had seven steals and six rebounds. “Coming into the second half our defense was great. We just really, really stepped it up.
“We never let our heads down and we made shots when it counted.”