BY CHAD DARE
Learning is something we do every day of our lives.
On Wednesday night, the 11th-rated Danville Area Community College Jaguars got a valuable lesson in its rivalry game against the Parkland College Cobras.
Thankfully for the Jaguars, the lesson came in a 77-65 win in overtime against the Cobras.
“We have to do a better job of when we getting people down of finishing them off,’’ said Danville Area Community College coach Mike Carpenter. “We knew Parkland would make runs. They hit some big shots and they played hard.
“But our maturity showed at the end.’’
DACC sophomore guard Chris Whitehead scored six of his 12 points and had an assist in the extra session to lead the Jaguars to their eighth straight victory.
“Coach has been preaching to us all week that it wasn’t going to be easy,’’ Whitehead said. “Basketball is a game of runs, and we had to fight through their runs.
“We always knew were going to win, but we had to fight it out.’’
And while Carpenter is very pleased with the victory, he still knows there is still more improvement to be made for his Jaguars, who improved to 19-3 overall and 4-0 in the Mid-West Athletic Conference.
“I didn’t think our focus was there early in the week,’’ Carpenter said. “For the first time, I kicked them out of practice on Monday. I blew a gasket.
“But, we felt like we needed to focus better. We don’t want them to get content with winning eight games in a row, being ranked and leading the conference.’’
DACC freshman center Ronnie White acknowledged the Jaguars let up a little when they got double-digit leads in both halves.
“Sometimes, we get comfortable with a lead and that tends to come back and bite us,’’ said White, who finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds. “We have to learn how to close out and keep teams down.’’
And what did they do differently in the overtime when DACC outscored Parkland 11-0?
“We were determined that we weren’t going to lose this game,’’ White said. “We came together as a family and got the job done.’’
And the Jaguars got the job done on both ends of the court. DACC made 4-of-5 shots to start the extra period, while Parkland missed five straight shots to go along with three turnovers and the Cobras missed five straight free-throw attempts.
“We moved the ball better, and we made the extra pass,’’ Carpenter said. “But, I also thought holding them at 62 points for 4 minutes of the overtime was also big.
“We did a good job of playing defense and we were getting big rebounds.’’
Parkland, which falls to 13-8 overall and 0-4 in the M-WAC, had its second-half rally fueled by second-chance opportunities.
Dominique Walls scored twice in the final minute on offensive rebound baskets. Walls finished with a team-high 18 points.
“We went into the overtime because we didn’t rebound,’’ Whitehead said. “If we had gotten a few more defensive rebounds, we would have won this game in regulation.’’
The Cobras sent the game into overtime thanks in large part to 12-2 run in the final 3 minutes, 43 seconds.
Parkland also had an 8-0 run late in the first half, taking a 29-28 lead but DACC’s Kody Tucker hit a huge 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Jaguars a 31-29 halftime lead.
“That was a big 3 from Kody,’’ Whitehead said. “We still didn’t finish the half well, but that gave us the lead and some momentum.’’
Tucker joined White and Whitehead in double figures with 12 points.
After three straight road victories in conference play, the Jaguars return to the Mary Miller Gymnasium on Saturday.
DACC will play the Lincoln College Lynx in a 6 p.m. contest.