PONTIAC — Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades is a phrase that probably everyone has heard at some point.
For the Danville Vikings boys basketball team and head coach Ted Houpt, it’s something they are living during the first part of the season.
Danville fell to 3-7 on the season with a 69-61 loss to Peoria Manual in an opening-round contest of the Pontiac Holiday Tournament on Thursday.
“It was another winable game,’’ Danville coach Ted Houpt said. “We’re playing against good teams every time we step onto the floor, but at the same time, these are games that we can be winning.’’
Six of Danville’s seven losses have come against teams with winning records and the Vikings average margin of defeat is 9.3 points. In the last two losses, a 64-56 setback against Bloomington, and Thursday’s loss to Manual, Danville has had opportunities in the fourth quarter to pull out a victory.
“We have to find a way to win one of these games or we are going to keep saying the same things over and over,’’ Houpt said. “We couldn’t get that big stop in the second half. We were right there, but we just need to make a run and we don’t do it.’’
Instead, the Vikings would pull within one basket of tying the game or taking the lead and the Rams (6-1) would score on back-to-back possessions to extend their lead. Manual’s best offense against Danville was its pressure defense.
The Rams turned 21 turnovers by the Vikings into 21 points, the majority of them were uncontested layups.
“Defensively, it wasn’t bad,’’ Houpt said. “But, you can’t guard turnovers. We do a good job in the half-court defense, but when we start turning the ball over, it creates easy shots.