PEORIA — Danville’s game plan without its top two scorers is pretty simple.
The Vikings need to play solid defense, take care of the basketball and win the battle of the boards.
For the first two quarters of Friday’s Big 12 Conference contest against the Peoria High Lions, everything was working just right for Danville.
But things changed at halftime and Peoria High rallied for a 60-50 triumph.
“We knew what we had to do. We had to win the rebound battle and we needed to get to the free-throw line, but it didn’t happen,’’ said Danville junior guard Devin Miles. “In the second half, they came out with more energy that us.
“We were playing aggressive and hard from the jump, but in the second half, we slacked off.’’
And while it wasn’t a big change by Danville, even a little less effort of execution is the difference between winning and losing.
“We competed better and we played hard enough, but when you are shorthanded, those small mistakes are magnified,’’ said Danville coach Durrell Robinson, noting that the Vikings played without juniors Tevin Smith and Nathanael Hoskins. “We made a huge leap from Wednesday (a 79-53 loss to Champaign Central).
“At the same time, we don’t have time to mope. We need to continue get better every game.’’
The biggest difference between the first and second halves in Friday’s game was the rebounds.
Danville (9-7 overall, 2-2 in the Big 12) enjoyed a 22-12 advantage at halftime and the Vikings held a 28-25 advantage, which was as large at 25-18.
But in the final 16 minutes, Peoria High (8-7 overall, 2-2 in the league) outrebounded Danville 20-14 and the Lions turned six offensive rebounds into eight second-chance points.
“We let them get a little momentum going in the third quarter and it cost us,’’ said Danville senior forward Robert Stroud, who had a game-high 21 points and nine rebounds. “They came after halftime ready to play and they wanted it more, and they hustled more.’’
That along with a 14-3 advantage at the free-throw line was too much for a short-handed Danville team to overcome.
Peoria High’s aggressive, trapping defense committed only three fouls in the first three quarters, while forcing 14 turnovers.
“We were sloppy and not caring for the ball,’’ Miles admitted. “They took advantage of it.’’
Robinson added that the Lions did a better job of adjusting to the physical style.
“Every time we gambled on defense, they made us pay for it,’’ he said. “It was an advantage for them.’’
Miles acknowledged that Danville, which hasn’t scored more than 59 points since Smith went down a knee injury and has not won in the new year, is still trying to learn how to play without its top two scorers.
“We learning more about ourselves right now,’’ Stroud said. “It’s a long process.’’
Danville will get a shot to snap its losing streak this afternoon at the Christie Clinic Shootout at St. Joseph-Ogden. The Vikings will play the state-ranked Kankakee Kays in a 12:30 p.m. game.