DANVILLE — Putting all the pieces together in the right places is the challenge for Danville second-year boys basketball coach Ted Houpt.
His Vikings are continuing to make progress, but the final results are still not there to the liking of Houpt or his team.
On Friday night, Danville played outstanding defense in the first quarter and the Vikings exploded for 23 fourth-quarter points, but everything that happened in between belonged to the Bloomington Purple Raiders.
Bloomington improved to 5-0 in the Big 12 Conference and 6-3 overall with a 64-56 victory over Danville.
“We’re there against the top teams in the conference,’’ said Houpt, whose team suffered a 20 and 12-point loss a year ago against Bloomington. “We can get it done. We just need everyone clicking at the same time to beat these really good teams.
“A year ago, we had some really dark games, but it doesn’t feel like that this season. We are trending in the right direction, but we want to get things turned around so that we’re talking about victories.’’
The Vikings, who fall to 3-6 overall and 2-3 in the Big 12, successfully put the clamps on a very explosive Purple Raider offense in the first six minutes.
Danville built a 9-1 lead thanks in part to its 2-3 zone and defensive rebounding by Denzel Smith, who finished with a game-high 11 boards, and Aubrey Duncan, who wound up with 10 rebounds.
“We played that zone fairly effectively and we rebounded it well,’’ Houpt said. “We knew that Bloomington was a team that wanted to get up and down the court quickly. We wanted to slow them down, but we also slowed ourselves down. We’re just not very good with our half-court offense, especially against pressure defense.’’
And those offensive struggles came to light in the next 6 minutes, 38 seconds. The Purple Raiders, using a spark from Jake Romani off the bench, went on a 21-3 run as the Vikings missed 10 straight shots and they committed four turnovers during that stretch. Romani scored 11 of his 15 points during that run.