PREP GIRLS BASKETBALL: Danville girls lose in regional semifinal

Feb. 13—DANVILLE — Experience has been the thing the Danville High girls basketball team has been missing.

While that came again in an 47-41 loss to Mahomet-Seymour in an IHSA Class 3A regional semifinal, the Lady Vikings showed flashes of what the future can bring.

"I think at times, we showed flashes of being a veteran team," Danville coach Glennie Watson said. "I have been challenging the girls to get four quarters together and I think we did that even with two starters out with foul trouble, I applaud the girls for the effort. We couldn't close it out at the end and that's the game. The girls carried out the strategy woe worked on all week on offense and on defense, I think we did way better than we did the two times we played them before."

The game was back and forth from the start as junior Amara McFarland had two 3-pointers and freshman Jada Bell had six points as Danville had a 14-13 lead after the first quarter.

"Amara is the captain and I think today was one of her best games of the season," Watson said. "She had a couple of kick outs that turned into baskets and hit some 3's . She was also being aggressive and trying to win the game. There were some turnovers that we didn't need in a regional game."

Bell, however, had two fouls in the first and sat out the second as the Bulldogs outscored the Lady Vikings 10-5 for a 23-19 halftime lead.

In the second half, sophomore Anna Houpt started to make shots. Houpt scored 14 of her team-high 16 points in the second half as both teams were tied at 29-29 after the third quarter.

"I think that not just for me, but for my teammates, a lot of shots started to fall at the right time," Houpt said. "We were clutch and we were making great passes. It was so up and down and it was pretty exciting."

"Anna has been playing good for the most part, but this was one of her best games of the season," Watson said. "She spots up and knocks them down. She's a great teammate and she stepped us for us tonight, I thought the girls did a better job in the second half of giving the ball to her because Mahomet likes to converge on the inside and she was able to knock down shots."

In the fourth, the back and forth play continued until Mahomet-Seymour made the most of steals and were able to get the win.

"Just a few miscues here and there and that was the game," Watson said. "There was no bad call rom the ref that decided the game. There were numerous plays we could have done better, but that's why you play the game. I thought the girls came out and competed and Mahomet played a very good and disciplined game. When we play the right way, we look good and when we don't, we look like a freshman team."

"I think a lot of emotions came into it. They looked like they had done this before and were calm and collected," Houpt said. "I think it all comes down to experience and knowing what people should be around at the right time with shot selections, I think we played one of our best games, but it came down to experience."

McFarland had 11 points for Danville, while Bell had eight and Ashanti Conaway had five points.

The Bulldogs were led by Kylie Waldinger's 15 points, Reese Gallier's 14 points and Selah Campion added nine. Mahomet-Seymour will take on Decatur MacArthur in Thursday's title game at 6 p.m.

For the Lady Vikings, the year ends with hope as all of the starters from Tuesday's game: Houpt, Conaway, McFarland, Bell and Gabi Huerta, will all return next season along with a needed year of experience for freshmen Bell and Conaway.

"Being young, you have to figure out how to play with each other. The freshman have played together, but we hadn't played with them," Houpt said. "As a young team, we are going to be stronger and stronger. We are looking to a bright future as a team and we hope to continue to grow our skills separately and as a team on an doff the court."

Watson hopes so as well as he says preparations for next season has already begun.

"I told the girls that they have to get in the gym. If you don't want this feeling, then you better fight to not let that happen," Watson said. "The season starts now and if you are in a spring sport, you have to do something two-three times a week with a basketball, If you are not, you better stay in the gym and work on the things you don't do well. It is what we have to do for them to be better players and for us to be a better team.

"In the Big 12, all of the teams we compete with are working in the gym, so that's where we have to be . We have to continue the work and not be complacent. We have a lot of returnees, but if they are not putting in the work, they will be the same players and we will have the same team. The girls have the passion and they love it enough to take ownership and if they do that, they will improve."