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Danville's season ends to Carver

Mar. 13—CATASAUQUA — For Luke Huron, Hayden Winn and the rest of the Danville boys basketball team, Tuesday's state playoff game wasn't just gravy or icing on a proverbial cake.

The Ironmen were not simply content to have won a district championship, or to have defended their court in the seniors' final home game last week. They came to Catasauqua High determined to post the program's first PIAA second-round win since 1989.

"We were all tired of that being the mentality: after districts were done," said Winn, a Danville senior. "We wanted to go far and prove that we're not just a team that wins (in districts)."

That idea could have gone by the wayside when Carver High School of Engineering & Science scored the first 10 points Tuesday. Instead, the Ironmen battled back and took the lead not a minute into the second half, and gave the District 12 runner-up Engineers all they could handle until the waning minutes of a 45-38 loss in the Class 4A state tournament.

"I truly believed we could win this game, and, honestly, we should have," said Huron, also a senior. "We prepared well, and we were all focused. I think we really expected to win this game.

"We wanted to make a run."

Danville was down two points with a little more than four minutes to play, and trailed by four at the 1:25 mark. In both instances, the Ironmen missed a couple 3-point looks and Carver responded by padding its lead. It wasn't until the final minute — when Teon Smith leaked out to score in transition and Anthony Brown made a free throw — that a seven-point margin was too much to overcome.

"A credit to our guys. They fought all the way back," said Danville coach Gary Grozier. "We didn't do everything right in the first eight minutes, but in the second eight minutes we played better. We had those middle quarters where we were really good, and then we had the ending that's not what you want."

The Ironmen, who lost a PIAA second-round game for the sixth consecutive time since 2006, finished the season 21-8. They appeared in the 2021 quarterfinals following a first-round win when only 10 teams were placed in the 4A field due to COVID restricitions.

Carver (21-6) will face District 12 third-place finisher Archbishop Carroll in Friday's quarterfinals. Carroll (19-8) topped District 11 champ Allentown Central Catholic, 62-56, on Tuesday.

Daniel Walker, coming off a career-high 24 points in Danville's first-round win over Octorara, scored a team-high nine points against Carver. Seniors Carter Heath (eight points), Winn (seven) and Huron (six) backed him, while Ethan Morrison added five. Heath pulled a team-best six rebounds in the loss, and Huron had five.

The Engineers got 13 and 11 points from sophomore Sahin Rodriguez and junior Aaron Williams. Senior Tali Simpkins had 11 boards to go with six points.

Rodriguez and Williams each scored four points in the first quarter, and Carver led 10-0 at the 3:03 mark. The Ironmen started 0-for-8 from the field, leaving their first handful of shots short. They didn't get on the board until Winn's strong, left-side drive at 2:49.

"They did punch us in the face right away, but there's no excuses. That's on us," said Huron. "We should have come out faster and more locked-in. They came out hot, (and) we came out slow."

Huron hit a 3-pointer late in the first to cut the deficit to 15-7, and Danville got into the flow of the physical game to get within 22-18 at halftime. The Ironmen shot 5-of-10 in the second quarter.

"We've been down early like that, so we have the experience on that front," Winn said. "We really just started to play how we know we can play."

Heath hit a baseline jumper to open the second half, and Huron drilled a go-ahead triple on the next trip. Walker then made a left-handed finish off a Winn feed for the Ironmen's biggest lead, 25-22. It was 27-all later in the third when Huron, Winn and Heath missed 3-pointers in a four-possession span and Carver surged ahead 32-27.

"We have a lot trust in them, and if (the shots) go in we're all geniuses," Grozier said. "The problem is if (the Engineers) go down and capitalize and we don't (answer). I don't mind the shot — I don't even mind the miss — if we go down and stop them on the other end. We didn't do that."

Smith pulled the ball out of scramble on the floor in the paint and hit a fadeaway jumper that became a three-point play with 8.4 seconds left in the third.

Walker beat the 6-foot-4 Simpkins for a three-point play to start the fourth, and a Morrison trey made it 34-33 with 6:16 left. Williams answered with a putback, and Danville couldn't get closer than two the rest of the way.

"I wanted to get to a point where we were up four to play zone. I never could get there," said Grozier. "I could get two; I could get the tie; I could get to one. I could never get where I wanted to just to control the tempo of the game and force them to make an outside shot."

The Ironmen shot 32% for the game (15-of-47), and just 25% in the fourth quarter.

"We know we can beat them," said Winn. "We know we could have played better, but they're a good team."

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PIAA CLASS 4A BOYS BASKETBALL

SECOND ROUND

At Catasauqua H.S.

CARVER SCHOOL OF ENGINEERING & SCIENCE 45,

DANVILLE 38

Danville (21-8) 38

Ethan Morrison 1 2-2 5, Carter Heath 4 0-0 8, Luke Huron 2 0-0 6, Hayden Winn 3 1-2 7, Daniel Walker 4 1-2 9, Nick Hand 1 1-2 3. Totals 15 5-8 38.

3-point goals: Huron 2, Morrison.

Did not score: None.

Carver School of Engineering & Science (21-6) 45

Fareed Brown 1 0-0 3, Sahin Rodriguez 5 2-2 13, Matthew McField 1 0-0 2, Aaron Williams 4 3-4 11, Tali Simpkins 3 0-0 6, Anthony Brown 2 1-2 5, Teon Smith 2 1-3 5. Totals 18 7-11 45.

3-point goals: F. Brown, Rodriguez,.

Did not score: Lut Young, Jhamir Bennett, Taydon Lewis.

Score by quarters

Danville;7;11;9;11 — 38

Carver E&S;15;7;10;13 — 45