BY CHAD DARE email@example.com
---- — NORMAL — Danville senior Denzel Smith won the 1-on-1 battle with Normal Community's Tyler Seibring.
As a matter of fact, the Vikings five starters outscored the Ironmen counterparts 49-40.
But when Friday's Big 12 Conference boys basketball game concluded, it was Normal Community, behind a 24-0 advantage in bench scoring, beating Danville 64-49.
"Denzel did a lot of things well,'' said Danville coach Ted Houpt. "We need to give him some more offensive support if we are going to beat the good teams like Normal Community.''
Smith, who finished with a game-high 22 points to go along with five assists and four rebounds, either scored or had an assist on Danville's first 25 points in the contest.
And while his individual efforts were outstanding, the Vikings (2-5 overall, 1-2 in the Big 12) were trailing the Ironmen by 10 points (35-25).
"We need to do a better job of helping him out on offense,'' said Danville senior Jarhed Watson, who scored two points in the first quarter and seven in the fourth quarter. "We definitely need to help him offensively.''
In the second half, Smith managed just five points in the third quarter but Danville cut a 12-point Normal Community lead down to three (44-41) with 6 minutes, 27 seconds left in the contest. The Vikings went on a 11-2 run in the third and fourth quarters as Kylen Butler had four points, Colin Bailey hit one of his three second-half 3-points and Smith got his final basket of the game.
"We got better offensive support in the second half, but we need to come out from the beginning of the game and have someone filling the supporting role,'' Houpt said.
But that was as close as the Vikings would get to the Ironmen.
Normal Community ended the game with 20-8 run as junior Alex Peacock scored nine of his 18 points off the bench for the Ironmen. Seibring, who had a game-high 19, added five points during that finishing run.
"We maybe did a better job of Seibring in the second half, and then Peacock hits us for a big number in the second half,'' Houpt said. "We need to have a supporting cast like that for Denzel.
"Kylen Butler (9 points) is capable of scoring, and he's done it in bursts. We have to get him more consistent. Jarhed Watson (9 points) is also capable of being another scorer. They have to do it from the beginning.''
Finding second and third scoring options wasn't the only problem for Danville on Friday night.
Normal Community shot a very good 55.6 percent (25-of-45), but the Ironmen also got six offensive rebounds, which they turned into six free points.
"If we don't rebound the basketball, we are definitely not beating the good teams like Normal Community,'' said Houpt, whose team was outrebounded 29-19. "We've got the length and the athleticism, so I don't know what else we can do.
"We just don't score the ball well enough to beat teams that are getting extra opportunities from us.''
Watson, who had a team-high seven rebounds for the Vikings, admitted giving up offensive rebounds is a real back breaker.
"We have to box out better and keep them from getting the offensive rebounds,'' he said. "Giving up offensive rebounds kills the defense. It kills our confidence and it feels like you are working for nothing.''
And seeing the Ironmen get a number of easy layups was also concerning for Houpt.
"That's what we have to work on,'' he said. "We changed our defensive philosophy a little. We are trying to protect the paint and the basket. That's what frustrating, that's our focus and they are still slipping through.''
In the junior varsity game, Normal Community defeated Danville 49-40 as Jordan Cunningham had a team-high 12 points for the Vikings and Nico Johnson chipped in with 10.
Up next for the Vikings is a home game on Tuesday night, as Danville hosts the Urbana Tigers. The JV game tips off at 6 p.m. with the varsity contest scheduled to begin