DHS soars to Final Four
Charles Prince, Hartselle Enquirer
HANCEVILE – It was 13 years of waiting and five years in the making. For the first time since 1992 the Danville Hawks are on their way to the Final Four of the 3A boys' state basketball playoffs.
According to center Patrick Pinchon, it was a fulfillment of a five-year plan for the Hawks' seniors.
"People used to tell us when we were in the seventh grade that when we get to be seniors we were going to be a real good team," Pinchon said.
"I felt like and all our seniors felt like we owed it to the people who believed in us to play with heart and make it to Birmingham for the Final Four."
Saturday night the Hawks qualified for a trip to Birmingham as they topped the Madison Academy Mustangs, 64-57, to take the Northwest Regional title. The win moves the Hawks within two victories of their first state basketball title since 1963.
Pinchon would prove to be the difference in the tourney final as he scored a game-high 25 points and grabbed nine rebounds.
Danville led by as many as eight in the opening half of play, but the Mustangs came back, thanks to seven three-pointers made in the second half. Danville coach Robert Pope said the Hawks were ready for the outside shooting of Madison Academy, but the preparation didn't make much difference.
"We knew they could shoot the three real well," Pope said. "We tried to get people on 10 (Tyler Hanback) and 12 (Taylor Dunnaway) but they hit some three's even when we were on them. We were real fortunate to keep the lead. If we had gotten behind this team, we would have had a real big problem."
Madison Academy closed the gap to four points on three occasions in the second half, but each time Danville would go inside to Pinchon and he responded with baskets each time to extend the lead back to six.
Pinchon would be named to the All-Tournament team along with teammates Matt Young and MVP Nate Orr.
"Patrick stepped it up tonight," Pope said. "He was the difference in the game. Each time they made a run, he put the ball in the hole for us. He played a heck of a game."
Pinchon felt his team needed his scoring and he was determined to respond.
"My teammates kept getting me the ball and they needed me to score," Pinchon said. "I just wanted to do whatever my teammates needed me to do tonight to win."
Young and Orr added 13 points each, while Stratton Garner scored eight and DJ Bridges scored five.
Young said the Hawks had to scrap for every basket they made against the Mustangs.
"I think they were the best defensive team we've played this year," Young said. "We had to work extra hard to get any open looks. It's a good thing our big man (Pinchon) had a big game."
Orr grabbed eight rebounds, handed out three assists and had one steal.
"Coach is always preaching rebounding and that we need to help Patrick on the boards," Orr said.
"That's what I tried to do tonight."
Danville won the battle of the boards with 33 rebounds to only 23 for Madison Academy.
Hanback led Madison Academy with 21 points including four three-pointers, while Dunnaway had 16 and hit three three-pointers.
Danville improved to 28-2, while Madison Academy finished at 24-9.
Pope refused to take any credit for the Hawks victory
"Once the game starts, players decide the game," Pope said. "(Madison Academy) Coach (Danny) Pettey has a lot of years experience on me, but it didn't matter because the players decided it tonight."
"The big kid (Pinchon) was just super tonight," Pettey said. "He was the difference. I think we did a pretty good job on their other main scorers, but we just didn't have an answer for Pinchon."