CHICAGO — The Danville Vikings left the Harry Combes Gymnasium in Champaign on Friday disappointed and frustrated.
Not because of a 76-66 loss to the Champaign Central Maroons, but it was how the Vikings lost that game that just left a bad taste in their mouths.
“We didn’t play Danville basketball in the fourth quarter,’’ said Danville senior guard Kendle Moore as the Vikings saw their four-point advantage disappear into the team’s first loss of the season.
Danville coach Ted Houpt acknowledged that his team lost its composure.
Less than 48 hours later, Danville had a chance to make amends with the Team Rose Shootout at Chicago Mount Carmel High School.
The Vikings, with 11 returning seniors and rated No. 6 in Class 4A, played with poise and composure down the stretch as they pulled out a 91-89 victory over the Chicago Orr Spartans, rated No. 1 in Class 2A, on Sunday afternoon.
Moore, who scored a team-high 30 points, had the game-winning basket with 6.1 second remaining as he first corralled an offensive rebound and then held the ball until driving to the basket and converted the off-balance layup.
“Once I got the rebound, I knew that coach wanted to pull it out and hold for the last shot,’’ Moore said. “I knew he wasn’t going to call timeout and he wanted the shot to come in the final 10 seconds.
“I just held onto the ball and then I made my move. It was kind of a tough shot, but it’s one that I know I can make.’’
Houpt, who has called on Moore before in those situations, said there was no one else that he would have wanted to take that shot.
“Kendle was Kendle on Sunday,’’ Houpt said. “There was a big spotlight on this game with both teams being ranked and he just stepped up like he always does.’’
And Moore wasn’t the only one with a big game on Sunday for the Vikings.
Junior forward Sean Houpt had 16 points and a game-high eight rebounds for the Vikings, while senior guard Eli Davis came off the bench to knock down five 3-pointers to finish with 15 points and senior center Julian Pearl finished with 10 points.
“This was the kind of game that we have come to expect out of this team,’’ Houpt said. “Kendle was leading the way, but we had contributions from everyone. Sean probably had his best game rebounding. Eli came in and hit some really big shots. Julian was a force inside for us. Jerry Reed came up with a couple of really big steals. Day’Len (Davis-Williams) helped us recover from a slow start and Caleb (Griffin) struggled a little shooting but he finished with a team-high five assists.’’
It was just the type of game that Danville needed after the Big 12 Conference opening loss to Champaign Central.
“When we got down 7-0 to start, I was a little worried,’’ Houpt said. “But we battled back. We fell behind again, but we came back. There were plenty of chances for us to lose our composure on Sunday, but we didn’t.
“When we got together on Saturday, we decided that we were going to learn from that loss on Friday night and it appeared on Sunday that we did.’’
Moore admitted that it was probably good for the Vikings (7-1) that they had a day in between games.
“I don’t think it would have been good if we had a full week after the Central loss and I don’t know if it would have been good to play the very next day,’’ he said. “We were able collect ourselves and get back to play our style of basketball.
“We know that we need to be together as a team and we are. We just made a couple of mistakes on Friday night.’’
Orr was led in scoring by Chase Adams with 37 points while Dannie Smith finished with 24. The Spartans failed to get a shot off in the final six seconds against the Vikings pressure defense.
Danville is back in action this Friday with its Big 12 Conference home opener against the Urbana Tigers. Tip off for the junior varsity game will be 6 p.m with the varsity game tentatively set for 7:30 p.m.
Also on Monday, the Vikings were awarded the No. 4 seed for the Pontiac Holiday Tournament on Dec. 28-30. Danville will open against Plainfield North at 6 p.m. on Dec. 28.