The Danville Lady Little Johns advanced to the finals of the 3A-4 district tournament on Wednesday with a 35-23 victory over Charleston. The Lady Tigers, playing their second consecutive tournament game in approximately 24 hours, played hard but could not overcome foul trouble and missed shots underneath the basket.
The Little Johns are one of the top teams in Class 3A across the state and have an excellent opportunity to play deep into the state tournament. The Little Johns will play Cossatot River on Friday for the Class 3A-4 tournament title. Cossatot defeated the Lady Pirates in Cedarville on Wednesday in the other semifinal game of the tournament. The Lady Eagles will make the long trip to Danville on Friday to play for a number one seed in next week’s regional tournament.
The Danville semifinal game started out as a low-scoring affair that saw both teams play tough defense, making it very difficult for each other to score. Charleston had some success against the pressure defense of the Lady Little Johns. Defense was the name of the game, and at the end of the first quarter, Danville led Charleston by a score of 9-7.
As the game moved into the second quarter, Charleston began to have foul trouble. At approximately 4:00 minutes remaining in the second, Lady Tiger Rylee Ross had to leave the game after picking up her third foul. Ross had been providing excellent play up to that point, and the foul trouble hurt the Charleston team that has been playing with limited numbers on their bench all season. By the end of the first half, Danville extended their lead to 14-9. Charleston was in the game, but foul trouble would prove to be too much in the second half.
The third quarter resembled a heavy weight fight with both teams going at each other hard. Charleston missed scoring opportunities underneath the basket and from three-point range, as well. The missed scoring opportunities would prove to haunt the Lady Tigers. Danville was able to survive the runs that Charleston made to pull within four points. Lady Tigers Rylee Ross and Gracie Koch played with three fouls each throughout the quarter. At the end of the third, Danville led Charleston, 24-18.
Missed offensive opportunities would again hurt Charleston in the fourth. Foul trouble continued for the Lady Tigers, and Gracie Koch eventually fouled out of the game with 3:25 remaining in the fourth. The foul discrepancy in the game was 10 to 1 in the second half in favor of Danville. Missed scoring opportunities both in the field and scoring opportunities for Danville at the foul line were factors in the game.
Against a very good Danville team, the foul trouble and the missed offensive scoring opportunities proved to be too much. The final score was 35-23 in favor of the Lady Little Johns. Danville advances to Friday’s final against Cossatot. The winner of that game will be a number one seed in the regional tournament, and the loser will be the number two seed.
After the game, Charleston head coach Jason Rucker was pleased with the effort and fight his team put up against the top-seeded Lady Little Johns. Coach Rucker said, “I thought it was the hardest we had played all year. I thought our defense was good enough to win the game. I have to credit Danville because their kids played extremely hard, as well.”
The loss eliminates the Charleston girls from the tournament, but the Lady Tigers will move on to regional play as a four seed next week in Bergman. The Tigers boys team will play at Cedarville tonight in the semifinals of the 3A-4 boys district tournament. Tip-off time in Cedarville is set for 6 p.m.
Additional photos from the Lady Tigers game at Danville can be found on Facebook at Charleston Tigers Sports.
Congratulations to the Lady Tigers and coach Jason Rucker on a fine season and best of luck next week in the regional tournament. Charleston will again be playing next week to advance to the 2020-21 state tournament. Good luck to the Lady Tigers next week, and Resident Press will see you in Cedarville tonight for the boys semifinal game. Watch for the story on this game in Friday afternoon’s online edition of Resident Press.
See you at Cedarville tonight!