ST. JOSEPH — Tevin Smith and Nathanael Hoskins accounted for nearly 60 percent of Danville’s offense in the program’s first nine games as the team went 6-3.
But in the last three games, the Vikings have been missing both Smith (knee injury) and Hoskins (flu), and the results haven’t been very good.
On Saturday at the Christie Clinic Shootout at St. Joseph-Ogden, Danville saw its losing streak reach five games with a 66-33 loss to the Kankakee Kays, who are rated No. 5 in the latest Class 3A Poll.
“None of these games have been the type of games where we couldn’t compete,’’ said Danville senior forward John Ward. “We have either come out flat or we have just ended on a really bad note.’’
It was the latter on Saturday.
The Vikings (9-8 overall) found themselves trailing 29-22 at halftime and they actually closed within 29-24 on a basket by Devin Miles to start the third quarter.
But that’s when things seemingly fell apart for Danville.
Kankakee went on a 22-5 run to end the third quarter with a 51-29 lead and the Kays (13-1) made it a 40-9, outscoring the Vikings 15-4 in the fourth quarter.
“It’s hardly ever fun when you are learning from your mistakes,’’ Danville coach Durrell Robinson said. “And we are learning a lot about ourselves, right now. Actually more than we prepared to learn because of the injuries and health issues that we are facing.
“Those things will come and go, but this is giving us a chance to evaluate everything we have in our program.’’
In their last two losses, the Vikings have had issues with their ballhandling.
Against Peoria High on Friday night, Danville turned the ball over 20 times and on Saturday against Kankakee, it was 24 turnovers.
“We are just overdribbling,’’ Robinson said. “The more we dribble, the more trouble we can get into against these very athletic teams. We are just playing into their hands.’’
Robinson acknowledged that part of the problem is guys trying to do too much without Smith and Hoskins on the floor.
“That’s always the case in situations like this,’’ he said. “Instead of trusting your teammates and just letting the game come to you, you want to do more than you are capable of doing.
“Right now, the more simple we play the game, the better off we will be.’’
Ward admitted that’s not easy, especially when the Vikings have been playing from behind.
“We are used to Tevin and Nathanael leading the team. They did it last year and they did it at the start of this year,’’ he said. “We are expecting them to be there. Both of them could take the ball and get us into our offense and get things going for us.’’
Junior guard Devin Miles and senior forward Robert Stroud are the only two players left on the Danville roster with extensive playing time from last year’s squad that went 31-4, which including setting a school-record for victories.
“Those two make a huge difference,’’ Robinson said. “And not just in points and rebounds, but it’s also their presence on the floor.
“Both of them lead in different ways, but their presence on the floor gives our team a different level of confidence.’’
In addition to missing their top two scorers, the Vikings are on a very difficult stretch in their schedule.
Danville have 13 games scheduled during a 24-day stretch dating back to the start of the Pontiac Holiday Tournament on Dec. 26 — and only two of those games will be at home.
As a matter of fact, the Vikings have nearly 1,000 miles — all by bus — during a nine-game stretch in 17 days. They are 3-6 during that stretch.
“We have been on the road a lot, playing difficult and talented teams,’’ Ward said. “But none of that matters if we don’t do a better job of playing as a team.’’
Miles was the leading scorer on Saturday with 14 points, while Stroud finished with 10 and Ward was the team leader with eight rebounds.
Danville will play its first home game since Dec. 20, 2019, on Tuesday when the Vikings host the Urbana Tigers. The sophomore game starts at 6 p.m. with the varsity set for 7:30 p.m.
At halftime of the varsity contest, the IHSA will present Fowler Connell, the former Commercial-News sports editor and current radio commentator for WDAN-AM 1490, with the Distinguished Media Honor.
In Saturday’s sophomore game, Kankakee defeated Danville 56-25.