BY CHAD DARE
Six seniors were playing their final games at Danville High on Tuesday night.
But after the pregame festivities, the Lady Vikings didn’t look much like a team wanting to cap their careers with a victory.
But Danville answered the call in the second half, scoring a season-best 28 points in the third quarter en route to a 65-40 win over Decatur MacArthur in Big 12 Conference girls basketball.
“I don’t think we were focused,’’ said Danville senior Lynette Buggs, who scored 11 of her game-high 15 in that third quarter. “We had to come out and play harder.
“We had to play harder and better because this was our last home game on this court.’’
Danville first-year coach Brian Anderson, who started an all-senior lineup, knew his team was really pumped up for this night.
“They were really excited about Senior Night, and maybe they were trying to hard,’’ he said. “But, it turned into a good night with them being honored and with the big crowd.
“I thought we had a heck of a third quarter. We really shared the ball well and Lynette was the beneficiary.’’
Danville senior Alexis Jimson-Miller, who finished with 12 points, seven assists, five steals and five rebounds, continually got into the middle of the MacArthur defense and found Buggs three times for easy layups.
“At halftime, we realized that we didn’t have the same edge that we’ve had this season and we needed to step it up,’’ she said. “Lynette did very well finishing at the basket. She did her thing and she just made shots.’’
Buggs, who also had a team-high eight rebounds, admitted it was probably her best game of her career.
“The guards helped me a great deal by driving to the basket hard and getting me the ball for a wide-open layups,’’ Buggs said. “This was the best one. It feels good to do it on senior night. I will always have good memories about this night.’’
The win on Tuesday night snaps a two-game home losing streak for Danville, which improves to 16-8 overall and 10-3 in the Big 12 Conference.
“We’ve had some tough losses last week,’’ said Jimson-Miller. “We had to play better on a senior night than we did in the first half.
“It was great see all of fans here, and having the band at the game. We couldn’t let ourselves not play well on this night.’’
The 16 victories this season for the Lady Vikings are the most for the program since going 17-11 in the 2006-07 year.
“The best part about this season is that these are great girls and their families have done a nice job of raising them,’’ Anderson said. “Coach Megan Luke and coach (Ashley) Clanton also did a real nice job. I’ve only had them for three months and they had them for three years.
“And what I’ve really liked is that this group of girls are really good friends — both on the basketball court and off. That’s makes my job a whole lot easier.’’
Buggs said that all six of the seniors (Jimson-Miller, Jade Carter, Kristi Burghart, Kalynn Mason and Breanna Keys) have been playing together since junior high.
“These are some wonderful memories that we are always going to have,’’ she said.
But, it wasn’t a perfect night for the Danville seniors as Carter, Keys and Buggs all left the game with some type of injury.
“We only had one sub left on the bench at the end of the game,’’ Anderson said. “I think Breanna has a pretty bad ankle, but the other two, Carter and Buggs, should be alright for Thursday’s game.’’
Up next for Danville is the Big 12 Conference leader, Champaign Centennial, on Thursday in Champaign.
The Chargers are 23-3 and they are ranked fourth in the latest Associated Press Class 3A Poll.
In the sophomore game, Danville defeated MacArthur 48-41 with Emone Davis leading the Vikings with 17 points, while Ashley Forthenberry contributed 10 in the victory.