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PREP BOYS BASKETBALL: Danville falls to Urbana as last-second 3 was off the mark

Jan. 10—DANVILLE — Diddy Robinson has been a varsity starter since his freshman season with the Danville Vikings.

That's why Danville coach Durrell Robinson had complete confidence putting the ball in the junior guard's hands in the final 9.5 seconds of Tuesday's Big 12 Conference contest against the Urbana Tigers with the Vikings trailing 54-52.

Diddy Robinson caught the ball in the backcourt, got around two Urbana defenders and drove to the basket where Urbana's 6-foot-7 forward Malcolm Morris was waiting.

Decision time for Diddy Robinson.

The junior saw his teammate, junior guard Darius Jay, wide open in the corner and kicked it to him for a possible game-winning 3-pointer.

Jay, who was playing his first game since Dec. 16 because of a knee issue, fired up a shot that was just a little too long. The Tigers grabbed the rebound to secure a 54-52 victory.

"It was a good play," said Diddy Robinson, who had 10 points in the contest. "I drove to the basket and hit the open man.

"We just couldn't convert."

But, is that the play that coach Durrell Robinson wanted?

"I put the ball in Diddy's hands. He had an opportunity to shoot it, but he saw that Darius was open and made the pass.

"We trust a three-year starter with the ball in his hands...he could have easily tried to shoot a floater there, but he made the right play by kicking it out and trusting his teammate. We made a play and had a chance to win — the shot just didn't go in."

And Diddy Robinson added it's a play he would make again if put into that position.

"If he's open, I have to kick it and if he's not, then I could have gone up for the floater," Diddy said. "The only way that I'm taking that shot was if I was really, really open or I knew that I could finish it. Otherwise, that play calls for me to make the pass.

"It's all good. We will bounce back from this game."

More disappointing to Durrell Robinson than the last shot not falling was how Urbana (6-6 overall, 2-3 in the Big 12) took a 54-52 lead with 9.5 seconds left.

Morris, who scored a game-high 17 points, got an offensive rebound basket as the Vikings were scrambling on defense.

"That is something we have preaching forever, is simply boxing out," Durrell Robinson said. "But, at the same time, our on-the-ball defense also needed to be better. We got beat off the dribble which forced our help-side defense to rotate and that allowed Morris to get to the glass.

"Those are the winning plays that we need to make."

The frustration of the loss was tempered a little by the start for the Vikings (5-12 overall, 0-4 in the Big 12).

Danville came firing on all cylinders, taking an 11-0 lead in first 3 minutes, 25 seconds of Tuesday's game.

"That was one of the better starts that we've had at home this year," Durrell Robinson said. "They were excited and focused."

But that double-digit advantage was short-lived.

Urbana came back to tie the game at 13 with 1:30 left in the first quarter and the Tigers actually held a 16-13 lead at the end of the period.

"We kind of let our foot off the gas pedal and they caught back up," Diddy Robinson said. "If we could have played that way for the whole game, I know we would have won."

And why did the Vikings let up?

"Probably because we got that lead and got too happy," Diddy answered. "We have to continue to make runs."

One other bright spot Tuesday night for Danville was not only the return of Jay, but the Vikings also got junior guard Jerry Reed back from the concussion protocol and 6-3 junior forward Eric Bryant made his season debut.

"This was the first time all year that we had a full roster," Durrell Robinson said. "I'm really happy to get those guys back, because it makes us a lot deeper and I think we showed glimpses of what we can look like in these final two months.

"The only problem is that we are running out of games to get better. I loved the effort that we had, but we still have a little way to go."

Junior CL Dye had a team-high 15 points for the Vikings followed by 11 points from senior Devan Larkin, who fouled out in the fourth quarter, and then came Diddy Robinson with 10.

In Tuesday's JV game, Danville led from start to finish to beat Urbana 58-41. Jaymion Avery had a team-high 15 points, while Erien Smith chipped in with 10.

Up next for the Vikings is another Big 12 Conference home game as Danville will host the Normal West Wildcats this Friday night.

Urbana 54, Danville 52

Urbana (54) — Malcolm Morris 6 5-8 17, Kyree Johnson 1 1-2 3, Marcus Jackson 2 3-5 7, Kyree Hillsman 5 1-5 11, Emmanuel Jones 1 0-0 3, Jaylen McElmurry 2 0-0 5, Jesse Mfwamba 4 0-0 8, Makel Bell 0 0-0 0. Totals: 21 10-20 54.

Danville (52) — Diddy Robinson 2 5-6 10, Devan Larkin 3 5-6 11, CL Dye 5 5-6 15, Demarcus Lucas 3 0-0 6, Jentezen Harris 0 0-0 0, Eric Bryant 0 0-0 0, Darius Jay 1 0-0 3, Jerry Reed 1 2-2 4, Persiris Menifield 0 1-2 1, A'Jani Davis 1 0-0 2. Totals: 16 18-22 52.

Urbana 16 16 13 9 — 54

Danville 13 16 11 12 — 52

3-pointers — Urbana 2 (Jones, McElmurry). Danville 2 (Robinson 1, Jay 1). Total fouls — Urbana 17, Danville 23. Fouled out — Larkin, Menifield. Officials — Mike Bell, Mark Jontry, Dane Severado.

Records — Urbana 6-6 overall, 2-3 in the Big 12 Conference. Danville 5-12 overall, 0-4 in the Big 12.

JV score — Danville 58, Urbana 41.