BY CHAD DARE
Any thoughts of Danville upsetting top-seeded Normal Community in the IHSA Class 4A regional tournament were gone in about three minutes.
The Ironmen scored the game’s first 14 points as they cruised to their 19th consecutive victory beating the Vikings 63-40 at Normal West High School.
“It there was one thing that we couldn’t afford to let happen,’’ Danville coach Ted Houpt said. “If we stayed close with them early, we could make them feel a little pressure. Because, obviously, they had more pressure coming in, but we never gave them a chance to feel any pressure.
“They jumped us right from the start, knocking down 3s.’’
Tyler Seibring, a 6-foot-6 sophomore forward, knocked down back-to-back trifectas while older brother, Trevor Seibring, a 6-8 senior center, capped the opening run with a 3-point play.
In all the Seibring boys combined for 35 points, with Trevor finishing with game-highs in points (24) and rebounds (10).
“Their big guys are awfully tough down there,’’ said Houpt referring to Seibrings along with Alex Peacock (10 points, five rebounds). “They are clearly a better team. They are a very good team, and they do a lot of things well.’’
And with a stable full of horses, the Class 4A ninth-rated Ironmen were able to clog the lane and force the Vikings (5-21 overall) to score from the perimeter.
Danville shot just 32.7 percent (16-of-49) and the Vikings were a disappointing 6-of-22 behind the 3-point arc.
“We didn’t shoot the ball well and they are not going to get out of the paint,’’ Houpt said. “They packed it in and we’re not able to hit the shots.’’
Danville senior Devyn McGuire, who came off the bench to score a game-high 10 points, admitted the start was frustrating but he said it was a backbreaker.
“We went through a lot of adversity this season,’’ he said. “We were down by 20 earlier this year against the Decatur MacArthur and we made a big comeback.’’
This time around, Danville did score 28 second-half points, but Normal Community countered with 30.
“We just couldn’t stop them well enough to cut into their lead,’’ said McGuire, who scored seven points in the third quarter, the last two coming on a one-handed slam.
But just like the previous two meetings between these two Big 12 Conference teams, the offensive execution of the Ironmen (23-6) was nearly flawless.
Normal Community guards Marquet Newsome and Callen Boddie each had six assists, while Trevor Seibring had four to go along with his points and rebounds. In all, the Ironmen had 19 assists to just seven for the Vikings.
“Tonight, there is not much we could do. This is an off-season issue,’’ Houpt said. “We have to become more skilled and we have to be better prepared coming into the season, knowing what we are going to do offensively, having better game plans.
“We look at them. That’s who we want to be. That’s what we want to look like. They bring their third string in and they run plays for layups.’’
And Houpt admitted that his first season was a learning experience for himself.
“I need to do a better job. I have learned an awful lot this year,’’ he said. “We need to develop more skill. We will look to have distinct identity and focus — it was a mixed bag tonight as it has been all year.
“There are some ways that I can improve starting with the offseason. I have a good idea of what we need to do and what we need to work on.’’
McGuire, a senior, acknowledged that while Danville didn’t have the physical attributes of Normal Community — like height — the Vikings are actually more athletic.
“All season, coach Houpt talked to us about improving our ballhandling, our shooting and other aspects of our game,’’ he said. “It was all new to us, and I think they will be much better next year.’’
And, according to Houpt, that starts with practice.
“We have to get in the gym as much as possible,’’ he said. “We have to give them some off-season workouts.
“We have some guys that spend time in the gym and we have some guys that don’t. We have guys that don’t play for six months before the year and it’s hard to beat teams that commit year round.’’
And Houpt is quick to point out that just being in the gym isn’t enough.
“It’s not just shooting around at the Y for a couple hours and saying that I went and practiced. It has to be purposeful,’’ he said. “It has to be skilled work, it can’t be just games. It can’t be tournaments and summer leagues.
“Where is the time to work on the skill? That doesn’t happen in a game. There has to be a commitment, otherwise, we will see what we saw tonight.’’