BY CHAD DARE
The Danville girls basketball team is enjoying its best season in years.
And while the Lady Vikings are assured of just their fourth winning season in the past 10 years, this group has one accomplishment that they haven’t achieved.
“We want to get a piece of that net and hold that regional plaque,’’ Danville senior Breanna Keys said. “It’s something we’ve wanted since our freshman year.’’
During the past four years, Danville girls basketball has been 47-60 and the last regional title for the school came in the 2007-08 season.
“We are excited for this opportunity,’’ Danville senior Lynette Buggs said.
And the Lady Vikings (17-10) will begin their quest for a IHSA Class 4A regional title tonight at Bradley-Bourbonnais High School against the host Boilermakers.
“We’ve accomplished a lot this year,’’ Danville coach Brian Anderson said. “We’ve gotten 17 wins. We finished third in the Big 12 Conference (11-5), and we were the No. 1 defensive team in the league.
“Hopefully, we have a few more wins in us.’’
The Vikings are going into tonight’s regional semifinal with some injury concerns.
Senior forward Jade Carter is likely out and Keys is still battling an ankle injury.
“We’re a little beat up,’’ Anderson said. “We’ve had to go with some younger girls like Alexis Hoskins and Ashley Greene, and they’ve stepped up.’’
But, as Keys pointed out, the strength of this Danville team is its defense.
“That’s what we’ve done all year and it’s what we will have to do against (Bradley-Bourbonnais),’’ she said. “We have to get after them from the beginning, and I think we can get this victory.’’
The Boilermakers (14-12 overall) are a virtual unknown to the Vikings.
“I think that’s the best,’’ Buggs said. “We have never played them and don’t know a lot about them. To me, it’s a bigger challenge and it pushes you to play harder.’’
And is their a key to facing a team for the first time?
“We have to focus on the court, pay attention to detail and play hard,’’ she said.
Anderson said he knows that Bradley-Bourbonnais has a 6-foot center in Dionna Sanders and good point guard, Carmisha Chavers.
“Earlier this year when we went to Peoria, we overprepared,’’ he said. “We got there three hours early to watch Moline and we played our worst game of the year.’’
Anderson said he plans to follow a typical game night approach of getting there about an hour before the game.
“We know it’s their home court and they will be used to rims,’’ Keys said. “We just have to go in there and play like it’s our home court.’’
Tonight’s regional semifinal is tentatively set for a 7:30 p.m. tipoff. The top-seeded Normal West Wildcats will play Minooka in the other semifinal beginning at 6.