No. 5 New London falls by five in Danville
BY ANDY KRUTSINGER
Mt. Pleasant News
DANVILLE — Danville and No. 5 New London had the crowd on the edge of their seats all game on Tuesday night as the two teams renewed their rivalry in a thrilling SEISC South Division showdown.
The Tigers made the Bears work for the season split but Danville was able to hold on to an 82-77 victory.
The Tigers raced out to an early 10-2 lead behind a handful of fastbreak points from their young guards and a couple of shots inside from senior post Justin Henecke.
Danville hit back, however, with a few breakaway points of their own, and the Bears were able to claw back and take a 16-15 lead going into halftime.
New London struggled throughout the first half to stop the dynamic senior duo of Kole Perkins and Kaleb Haeffner. The Tigers, who are still without big man Ben Dentlinger, were unable to contain the two stars from scoring inside.
Danville led by double-digits for a good portion of the second quarter after starting the period out on a big run. New London was able to cut the lead before halftime, however, and the Bears led 41-34 at the half.
Both teams were battling foul trouble early and often, especially New London who had three starters (Alex Dentlinger, Mason Porter and Justin Henecke) with three fouls at the break. Haeffner had three of his own, but the Danville post stayed off the foul board for the entirety of the third quarter.
During the third period, Danville was able to start pulling away and it looked like the Bears might run away with the victory. Keontae Luckett hit a three to end the quarter, but Danville still looked good with a 64-52 lead after three quarters.
New London wouldn’t go away, however. The Tigers battled back in the fourth quarter thanks in part to big plays by Isaac McSorely and Luckett, the only two starters who weren’t in major foul trouble at halftime.
The two sophomore guards held off the Bears with a ton of hustle points which helped them combine for over 25 points in the second half.
Porter was able to stay off the foul board for most of the second half, allowing him to get settled into the action, but Dentlinger and Henecke each picked up their fourth foul and had to sit for the beginning parts of the fourth quarter. Blake Nehring and Grant Swanson filled in nicely, however, and the Tigers cut the Danville lead to two possessions at different times throughout the final quarter.
Despite the comeback effort, however, the Danville stars did just enough to hold on to the lead late and New London was never able to get it back to a one possession game.
“We didn’t play particularly well on defense,” said New London head coach Bryant Porter after the game. “Anytime you give up 80-plus points, you’re not going to win a lot of games. I felt like early foul trouble really dictated how we played the rest of the game and we can’t let that happen.”
McSorley filled the stat sheet up in the loss. He finished the game with 21 points, 13 rebounds and three steals.
Luckett scored 16 points and led the team with eight assists and four steals. Porter finished with 12 points. Henecke had 10. Nehring scored eight. Dentlinger had seven and Swanson finished with three.
The Tigers fell to 15-2 overall but can still lock up a share of the South Division title with wins in their final two games.
New London will host Holy Trinity on Friday, Feb. 3, before traveling to Highland on Tuesday, Feb. 7.
The Tigers still may face Danville in the postseason and possibly in the district championship game. Coach Porter says his team will be up for the challenge if the two squads meet with seasons on the line.
“All I can say is this…we’re going to be ready,” Porter says. “They better be ready because we’re going to be.”