DANVILLE — Something was going to give between the Danville and Highland boys basketball teams met Friday night.
The Blue Devils turned a well-rounded effort into a 54-42 win over Highland, their first in Knox-Morrow Athletic Conference play.
Darren Mickley scored 14 of his 19 points in the first half and Hunter Elliott dished out seven assists to lead the Blue Devils.
For Danville coach Matt Moore, the win was a team effort.
“That was a good team win; Everybody contributed to that win,” he said. “(Elliott) did a great job of controlling the basketball tonight. Darren knocked down key shots and our bigs got rebounds. Everybody played their hearts out tonight and we really needed it.”
For Highland coach Chris Powell, it’s another teachable moment.
“I know they put time in and I know they work on their game in the gym and in the driveway and their barns,” he said. “The challenge is, can you take the work that you’ve put in and raise the intensity level.”
Mickley hit a pair of free throws off a technical foul to give the Blue Devils the lead with 1:09 remaining in the first half.
As it turned out, Danville never trailed again. Aaron Mezie’s put-back with 44 seconds left pushed the lead to 27-24, which the Blue Devils (2-17, 1-12) took to the locker room.
“We knocked down shots at the beginning, which got us momentum,” Mickley said. “We managed to keep them from scoring on defense, which helped us get a lead and keep it.”
Levi Lyons added a put-back on Danville’s first possession and Mickley buried a 3-pointer on the next to push the lead to 32-24 with 6:55 left in the third quarter.
“We finished the second quarter flat and it carried over into the third and we never got our energy back,” Powell said.
Branton Howard hit a three and Zac Taylor knocked down a pair of free throws to get the Fighting Scots within three.
But Max Payne hit a three and Hunter Elliott found Lyons for a basket underneath a couple of possessions later to push the lead back out to eight, and Highland never got that close again.
“I challenged our guys to stay focused for 32 minutes,” Moore said. “We’ve had games where we’ve done it for a half or a quarter here or a quarter there. We stayed focused for 32 minutes tonight.”
Mickley scored 14 of his 19 points in the first half and added four assists, all of which came in the second half. Wyatt Weckesser added 12 points and 10 rebounds and Payne chipped in nine points for the Blue Devils.
Hunter Elliott had six points on a pair of 3s and dished out seven assists to go with four rebounds, Aaron Mezie had 11 rebounds to go with four points and Lyons finished with five points and five boards for Danville.
Howard had 12 points; Gavin Hankins added eight points, nine rebounds, two assists and two steals; Zac Taylor had four points, seven rebounds and a pair of helpers and Bryant Marcum had seven points and five steals for the Scots (2-17, 2-11).
“We weren’t being selfish and we weren’t being individuals, we just weren’t together,” Powell said. “They just had more passion and more energy and we didn’t finish some key plays.”
Next up, both teams are home against non-league opponents Tuesday night. Danville hosts River View and Highland welcomes Horizon Science. Tip-off for both matchups is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
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