The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Sports

December 11, 2013

Vikings starting to make a turn this year

Lester steps up from the bench as Danville gets past Urbana 73-66

DANVILLE — The Danville boys basketball team had been struggling to start the 2013-2014 season. Coming into Tuesday’s game against Urbana, the Vikings were 1-2 in the Big 12 Conference and 2-5 overall.

On Friday, they lost 64-49 and things needed turned around.

On Tuesday night, that turnaround just may have begun.

An unlikely star shined bright Tuesday night at the Danville High School gymnasium. While Kylen Butler led the team in points and Denzel Smith had another 20-point game, senior Kemony Lester came off the bench and proved to be a valuable asset in the 73-66 win over the Urbana Tigers.

Lester scored 15 points and trailed only Butler (22) and Smith (20) but his contributions off of the stat sheet were most impressive.

“He came off the bench and gave us an incredible spark,” Danville coach Ted Houpt said. “Not just hitting shots but with his defensive intensity too. He was running around the floor, getting after loose balls. He was great.

Lester, who had been struggling early on in the season, credits those around him for turning it around tonight.

“I haven’t had a good season but my teammates kept me going, telling me my shots are going to start dropping. And my coaches kept me on track the whole time,” Lester said.

The emergence of Lester as a legitimate offensive weapon opened up things for the team’s biggest weapon in Smith. The Tigers could not double team Smith because when they did, Lester and Butler took advantage of it.

“When different guys are scoring it opens things up,” Lester said. “Everyone can do anything at any given time.”

The game didn’t begin so smoothly for the Vikings as they began the game in a scoring drought. It looked especially ugly when the Tigers went on an 8-0 run to start things off.

“We came out with a little bit of jitters and Urbana came out and hit us hard,” Houpt said. “But then we got over those jitters and got a little more aggressive, made some baskets and we turned around.”

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