BY CHAD DARE
Effort and desire are two things that can not be measured.
Those are also the two things that the Danville High girls basketball team will rely on this season to be successful.
In its home opener, Danville used a tenacious defense to forced Decatur Eisenhower into 30 turnovers as the Lady Vikings got their first Big 12 Conference victory with a 43-34 win over the Panthers.
“It feels really good to get a big win at home to start,’’ said Danville senior Alexus Jimson-Miller, who just missed her first-ever triple double. “Everyone worked hard and got after it on the defensive end.’’
Jimson-Miller had a team-high 11 points to go along nine rebounds and nine steals, both of which were also team-highs.
Those nine steals were part of 23 thefts for the Vikings in the contest, which led to 18 points for Danville.
“We don’t have a lot of size, so we really have to outwork the other team,’’ Jimson-Miller said. “Those steals are a result of us working hard on the defensive end.
“Getting those turnovers sets up our offense. We’re a fast team and we are able to push the ball in transaction after a steal.’’
Danville had a 40-15 lead with 6:38 left in the contest, so coach Brian Anderson decided to rest his senior, Jimson-Miller.
“Alexus has been a little banged up recently,’’ he said. “We were trying to save her knee a little bit, but we had to put her back in at the end.’’
That’s because, the Panthers went on a 15-2 run, pulling within 42-30 with 1:58 left.
“Alexus keeps everything in order for the most part,’’ Anderson said. “When she is out, it’s noticeable.’’
And it wasn’t just on the offensive end.
“She also guarded Eisenhower’s (Shay Robinson) best player,’’ said Anderson as Robinson had a game-high 14. “I think Alexus was able to frustrate her a little bit.’’
But, Anderson was quick to point out that it wasn’t just Jimson-Miller on the defensive end.
Ashley Greene had five steals and Jade Carter had four as Danville forced Eisenhower into 27 turnovers in the first three quarters.
“I was real proud of our effort for three quarters,’’ he said. “We got on the floor a handful of times. There was one possession where we had four girls on the floor.’’
Not only did the Vikings create 19 additional possessions by winning the turnover margin, they also had 22 offensive rebounds. Not bad for a team that doesn’t have a starter over 5-foot-6.
“We just didn’t finish our layups real well, but we’re getting better,’’ said Anderson, whose team shot just 19.4 percent (12-of-62) and they were 5-of-25 behind the arc.
“We actually hit some 3s, which was good,’’ he said. “But we also shot a lot of them.’’
Thursday’s victory in front of a nice home crowd was a first for the team and for Anderson.
“We told the girls to hype it up in the hallways this week, and we had a good showing,’’ Anderson said. “The girls were excited to play their first game at home and it gave us a little addition energy.’’
Danville hits the road for its next Big 12 contest this Saturday at Urbana. The JV contest is set for 1 p.m. with the varsity tentatively set for a 2:30 p.m. tipoff.
In Thursday’s JV game, Danville defeated Eisenhower 34-32. Emone Davis led the Vikings with 11 points while Alexis Hoskins had nine.