The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Sports

January 8, 2011

Vikings show off confidence

CHAMPAIGN — In each of the past three years, the Danville basketball season has ended at the hands of the Champaign Central Maroons.

While that definitely won’t happen this season, Central coach Scott Davis still sees a team that is very difficult to beat on any given night.

On Friday night, the Vikings showed Davis and the rest of the spectators at Harry Combes Gymnasium just how good they are this year.

Danville had all five starters score eight or more points as the Vikings won their fourth straight Big 12 Conference contest with a 69-58 victory over the Maroons.

“I think they are playing with such confidence,’’ Davis said. “They know this is their time. Two years ago, they were young, they were a little wet behind the ears and they were thrown into it.

“Last year, they had a good season, but it was still a team of underclassmen.

“This year, you can see the confidence,’’ Davis said. “They are expecting to beat you.’’

That was evident when the Vikings overcame a five-point first quarter deficit with a 10-1 run to take a 15-11 lead after the opening eight minutes.

“We started off slow,’’ said Danville senior Joey Robinson, pointing out the Vikings had not played in eight days. “We just needed to get back into game play.

“Once we did, it all came back to us.’’

For Robinson, who scored the final four points in the first quarter, the time off was even a little longer as his play in the Pontiac Holiday Tournament was limited with an ankle injury.

“I couldn’t wait to get back in there with my teammates,’’ he said. “I didn’t want to miss any more of my senior year.’’

Danville (8-6 overall, 4-1 in the Big 12) took control in the second quarter with a 10-0 run fueled by a few Central turnovers and six consecutive missed shots.

“We were supposed to come out aggressive and we didn’t,’’ said Danville senior D’Lando Carter, who had 18 points for the Vikings. “We just had to calm down. We knew we had to play defense, because that’s how we create our offense.’’

Danville coach Gary Tidwell pointed out that stretch in the second quarter gave his team a little confidence.

And that carried over into the third quarter when the Vikings forced the Maroons into five turnovers.

“During that key stretch in the third quarter, we got three or four steals in a row, was the defining moment in the game,’’ Tidwell said.

Hightower, who scored a team-high 20 points, had two of those thefts, while Robinson had one and Jaron Cunningham had another.

“Overall, I thought we handled their pressure pretty well,’’ Davis said. “But there were a few instances that they got timely turnovers. When that happens, they finish.’’

While Hightower (20), Carter (16) and Robinson (14) were all in double figures for the Vikings, Cunningham and Justin March contributed nine and eight points respectively.

“They had a lot of contribution from a lot of players,’’ Davis said. “The way they can shoot and the way they can share it, they are tough.’’

March also did a solid job in defending Central’s Jay Simpson, who has committed to play at Purdue.

The 6-foot-8 center had a game-high 21 points, but he had to earn every one of them against the physical defense from the 6-foot-1 March.

“Bubba (March) is our physical guy, we know what he can do from football,’’ Robinson said. “I think we did a pretty good job on Simpson.’’

The Maroons (5-8, 3-2) also got 17 points from it 6-5 junior forward Myles McCarthy.

In the junior varsity contest, Danville defeated Central 63-53. Martez Davis led the Vikings with 20 points, while Chuckie Robinson had 18 and Donta Ingram finished with 11.

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