BY CHAD DARE
Consistency can be the determining factor between winning and losing teams.
And on Friday night, it proved to be difference as the Normal Community Ironmen defeated the Danville Vikings 55-43 in a Big 12 Conference contest at Danville High.
The Vikings, who fell to 2-6 overall and 1-3 in the Big 12, had good stretches, but six-minute scoring drought in the first half and five-minute drought in the second half was too much to overcome.
“We couldn’t put the ball in the basket and a lot of times, we couldn’t get an attempt,’’ said Danville coach Ted Houpt, noting that his Vikings committed six of their nine turnovers during those stretches. “I think this is another one of those games where we played well at times.
“I have no problem with the effort or the attitude. We stayed together and looked like a team fighting for a win, but we got stretches of poor decision making that continues to haunt us.’’
Coming off Tuesday’s disappointing loss to Urbana, Danville looked like a different team in the first 6:30.
Junior forward Denzel Smith scored eight of his team-high 16 points during that stretch as the Vikings built a 15-6 lead.
“They made good decisions in the first quarter. We pushed the ball, which is something we want to do,’’ Houpt said. “It was a great glimpse of things that could be, if we get the maturity to make good decisions.’’
But just as good as the Vikings looked to start the game — things were just as bad in the next 6:30.
Danville missed nine straight shots — including a missed dunk — and four turnovers that aided Normal Community’s 16-0 run.
“We have to push it responsibly,’’ Houpt said. “When it’s there you take it, and when it’s not, you pull up. I think we got a little excited. Whoever got the ball, they felt invincible and we started turning it over, and those turnovers led to layups. That’s been our problem all year.
“When we start forcing it, and have the wrong people bringing the ball up court — we make mistakes and we give back what we’ve gained.’’
Danville senior Daniel Carter, who had six rebounds and two assists, admitted it’s little things that are hurting the Vikings.
“At times our defense was good, but we need to do a better job of keeping our guy in front of us,’’ he said. “Offensively, we need to pass the ball more. We need to make that extra pass to get an easier basket.’’
And those were two areas where Normal Community, which improved to 3-3 overall and 3-1 in the Big 12, excelled on Friday.
“Normal Community executes really well,’’ Houpt said. “I thought we did a better job of helping on defense, but they made one more pass.
“I think we did better than we’ve done in the past, but it wasn’t good enough.’’
After back-to-back losses this week, Houpt said he is focusing his team on the next challenge.
“You don’t want to get used to losing, you don’t want to say its okay and you don’t want say they are better than us,’’ Houpt said. “We had a pretty good effort, but it wasn’t enough.’’
Senior Trevor Seibring had game-highs in points (20) and rebounds (10) for the Ironmen, who enjoyed a 21-9 advantage in free-throw attempts, including an 18-3 advantage after the first quarter.
“They were pretty physical,’’ Houpt said. “We just have to adjust and match them. We knew they were going to bring it to us.
“We don’t want to be a team standing around, looking for a call, we want to take it back to them.’’
The Vikings will have a week off until their next Big 12 Conference contest next Friday on the road against the Bloomington Purple Raiders.
In the sophomore contest, Normal Community defeated Danville 60-38. Montrell Smith led the Vikings with 10 points, while Aubrey Duncan finished with nine.