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Basketball: Denmark teams fall at Milton
02102023 DENMARK
Denmark's Mallory Bryk gets past a Milton defender during a Region 6-7A matchup Tuesday in Fulton County. (Photo by Nicholas Sullivan)

Denmark's basketball teams ended the regular season on a low note, struggling offensively in Region 6-7A losses Tuesday at Milton.

The upside is that the Danes girls team has a chance to immediately make up for Tuesday's 44-25 defeat. Meanwhile, the Denmark boys will possibly get an opportunity to do the same to avenge a 51-35 setback.

In the opening round of the girls region tournament Feb. 11 at West Forsyth, the fifth-seeded Danes and No. 4 seed Eagles will meet for a berth in the Class 7A state tournament. Both teams were locked into the matchup regardless of Tuesday's result.

With no tangible benefit to winning versus losing, Denmark clearly didn't want to overplay its hand. The Danes, who won the first meeting by a 51-38 final score, rested their starters more than usual and played few minutes with their top two scorers — Emma Hempker and Hannah Lopez — on the floor at the same time.

To Milton's credit, the hosts shot the ball extremely well, with Kendall Thorne burying four of the team's five 3-pointers. The senior knocked down a pair of shots from distance in the first quarter in leading the Eagles (12-12, 4-6) to a 10-5 advantage.

Hempker, who finished with a team-high 13 points, tied the game early in the second period on her second of three treys.

However, Milton dominated the remainder of the half to carry a 22-14 edge into the break. Denmark (6-19, 3-7) scored just a single point in the third quarter, due to a 1-for-8 performance from the foul line in the period.

Armed with a 29-15 lead entering the final stanza, the Eagles saw their lead trimmed to 10 points at 32-22 before an 8-0 put the game away.

In many respects, the boys contest played out in similar fashion.

Denmark, which could have ended the night as the No. 1 seed if results had fallen in its favor, couldn't get into a groove on the offensive end until the game had already been decided.

Seth Fitzgerald scored a dozen points in the first quarter for Milton, which held a 19-9 advantage entering the second.

The Danes (14-10, 7-3) scored just six points apiece in the second and third quarters. On the positive side, Denmark's defense improved drastically in the second half, as Milton (18-7, 6-4) only managed to cancel out the Danes' 20 points over the final two periods.

Stefan Davidov paced Denmark with 10 points, but six of those came in the opening quarter.

Having beaten the Eagles 58-55 in the teams' initial meeting, the Danes should carry some confidence into the region tournament despite ending the regular season with a pair of losses.

Denmark had already clinched a first-round bye in the region tournament but will settle for the No. 2 seed and a possible rematch with Milton. The Eagles earned the region's third seed with Tuesday's victory and will face No. 6 seed Forsyth Central for a spot in the semifinals against the Danes.