For the first time this season, Denmark head girls basketball coach Erik Siuta saw his team fight Tuesday night at Lanier.
The Danes trailed by 11 points heading into the fourth quarter and nearly came all the way back after cutting the deficit to just one point with just over a minute remaining in the game. But what plagued the Danes for much of the night ultimately cost them a chance at completing the comeback.
Host Lanier pulled down 15 offensive rebounds on the night, and it was their final board that secured the victory after it led to a pair of free throws being made with 15 seconds remaining to give the Longhorns a slim 46-43 win over the Danes.
“This is progress,” Siuta said. “This is the first game that we’ve gotten down and battled back to give ourselves a chance. I told them in the locker room that I was proud of them, and I appreciate the fact that they fought and continued to fight even when we got down.”
The Danes outscored the Longhorns 13-5 in the fourth quarter, but couldn’t get a 3-pointer at the buzzer to go down from Hannah Lopez.
The first half was a close back-and-forth one between the Danes and Longhorns. It was the hosts that held a slim 23-18 lead at the break after the Danes struggled to grab rebounds. The Longhorns were able to connect on two big 3-pointers down the stretch that both came on second chances.
"We got ourselves back in it and obviously the rebounding — they missed the front end of a 1-and-1 and we couldn’t pull down the rebound late — we’ve got to secure those rebounds," Siuta said. "That’s one of the many things that we need to continue to work on and get better at.”
The Danes did a much better job rebounding in the third quarter, but costly turnovers allowed the Longhorns to make a run. With the lead trimmed to one point, 23-22, early in the third quarter, Lanier mounted a 16-6 run to build an 11-point lead heading into the fourth quarter.
After opening up the fourth quarter with a baseline jumper from Mallory Byrk, the Danes slowly but surely started to cut into the Longhorns’ lead. Emma Hempker drilled a 3-pointer with three minutes remaining to cut Lanier’s lead to two points, 43-41, and later scored a putback layup with 1:22 to cut the lead to one, 44-43.
Needing one more stop, the Danes couldn’t get one. The Longhorns grabbed offensive rebounds on back-to-back 1-and-1 free throw situations and eventually knocked down a pair of free throws to give the hosts a 46-43 lead with 15 seconds remaining.
With a chance to send the game into overtime, the Danes (3-4) struggled to find an open shot in the closing seconds before Lopez fired off a 3-pointer that was blocked to end the game.
Boys: Lanier 67, Denmark 52
Turnovers, turnovers and more turnovers.
Giving opponents free possessions is usually not a recipe for success and the Denmark boys basketball team found that out the hard way Tuesday night on the road against a talented Lanier team.
The Danes turned the ball over 19 times and, despite shooting 48 percent from the field as a team, were never in a position to win the game. Lanier built a massive first-quarter lead and never looked back en route to a 67-52 win.
Denmark turned the ball over more times in the first quarter (6) than they had made shots (4). And with the Longhorns coming out of the gates shooting lights out, it led to a disastrous first quarter for the Danes.
Lanier shot 10 of 13 from the field in the quarter and knocked down four 3-pointers to lead Denmark 25-11 after one.
The Longhorns didn’t shoot the ball as well in the second quarter, but the Danes weren’t able to take advantage of it.
Still maintaining a double-digit lead, the Longhorns caught fire with two more 3-pointers to give them their largest lead of the half, 37-21, with just over three minutes remaining in the second quarter.
The Danes continued to shoot the ball well, however, and knocked down six shots from the field to cut the Longhorns' lead to eight points at the half, 37-29. Denmark ended the quarter on an 8-0 run and drilled two 3-pointers of their own.
Stefan John Davidov, who finished his night with 19 points, kept the Danes in the game with a great second quarter. The senior knocked down a pair of 3-pointers and scored nine of their 15 points in the quarter.
The third quarter was almost a carbon copy of the second quarter. The Longhorns built their lead back up to 16 points with just over two minutes remaining in the quarter, but again the Danes closed it out on a nice run and trailed by 12 heading into the fourth.
The Danes (5-4) managed to cut the lead to 10 points with 2:10 left in the game, but the Longhorns went on to finish out the game on a 7-2 run to win comfortably.
Keinan McFarlande joined Davidov in double-figures with 14 points in the losing effort.