By Corey B. Elliot
DANVILLE — The Danville Warriors took advantage of hosting sectionals and defeated Indianapolis Northwest 77-65 to win the sectional championship and advance to regionals this Saturday at Greencastle where they will face Mount Vernon (Fortville).
One night after scoring 39 points, senior Ian Asher took a back seat to senior Avery Motes following the theme of this Danville Warriors (18-5) basketball team almost all season long; selfless basketball.
Motes finished Saturday night’s sectional championship with 26 points.
“It was just one of those nights shots were going in,” Motes said. “I felt like anything I threw up was going to go in tonight. Last night Ian was the same way. He couldn’t miss, so tonight they focused on him and I took advantage of it.”
Danville took advantage of the Space Pioneers’ focus on Asher, who finished with nine points, and fed off of one another’s energy.
The Warriors trailed at the end of the first quarter by one point. Danville opened up the second quarter on an 11-4 run and didn’t look back the rest of the way as they took a 31-26 lead into halftime. The collective effort of seven seniors and the rest of the Warriors was the key ingredient to cutting down the nets.
“I’m just really happy for our kids,” Danville coach Brian Barber said. “They’ve done a great job all year buying into everything and working hard. We have seven seniors, which is the most we have ever had and they really wanted it this year. They worked for it. Avery and all these guys really wanted it and they earned it.”
In the third quarter, Northwest pulled to within five points, forcing a Danville timeout as the Warriors seemed a little flustered from the Space Pioneers’ 6-0 run. Out of the timeout, Motes hit a 3-pointer to put Danville back up by eight.
Northwest turned it over on the next possession and Motes went coast-to-coast laying it in for another two to give the Warriors their largest lead of 10.
But that wasn’t all the senior had in store; off of yet another rebound by senior Jackson Stone, Motes drove the lane and laid it in for two points and a shot at the foul line after colliding with Northwest’s Justin Parker, capping off a Danville 8-0 run.
Danville closed with several trips to the foul line as Northwest was trying to extend the game, but it was too late. As the clock ran down, it was Asher who dribbled the ball out along the baseline before throwing the ball in the air in celebration. As the final buzzer sounded, he met Motes in front of the Danville bench and they embraced.
“We’re not even a team anymore, this is a brotherhood,” Asher said. “From the very start, even during summer conditioning, we knew there was something special about this team. So we have to get back to work Monday. I’m not stopping until we get that state championship.”
Nothing is certain in tournament basketball. You get what you put into it. If Danville puts forth the effort we have seen thus far, it may not be shocking to find the Warriors at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in three weeks playing for a state championship.
“We can’t overlook anybody at this point,” Motes said. “Any team that has won a sectional is obviously a pretty good team so we’ve got to go into each game and play as hard as we can because nothing is guaranteed.”