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By Daniel L. Chamness
Rantoul Press correspondent
It started off quite ugly.
It ended that way as well.
The Danville Vikings scored the first 14 points of the game and rolled to a 72-49 win over Rantoul Township High School 72-49 in the Eagles’ final regular season boys basketball game of the season.
Danville held RTHS scoreless until the 4:01 mark of the first quarter, when Tom Wood hit a bucket. The Vikes would add another bucket by Greg Morrow, who scored at 2:42, and Weylin Williams hit another basket with 15 ticks left on the clock in the first quarter. At the first break, Danville had an 18-6 lead.
“We could not stop their dribble penetration all night long,” RTHS coach Brett Frerichs said. “We were a little flatfooted on the defensive end. We seem to play with intensity after we make shots. We need to play with that type of intensity all the time, not just after we score.
Frerichs noted the play of Williams.
“You always want an athlete to play hard, and he was a force on the offensive and defensive end. He stayed positive throughout the game,” Frerichs said.
Danville continued to add to its lead — building the margin at each of the successive breaks.
Danville led 32-11 at halftime, limiting Rantoul to one old-fashioned three-pointer by Damontae Space with 5:57 to play in the first half and a layup by Johnny Jones at 1:38.
Danville had a 9-0 run during the quarter.
The Eagles scored in double figures in the third quarter, but Danville had them doubled up by the end of the third. At times they led by as much as 35 points, 56-21, with 2:30 to play in the third quarter.
Some of the high points for Rantoul included a three-pointer by Jones and another trey by James Coleman in the final two minutes of the quarter.
Rantoul cut the lead to 21, 70-49, on a free throw by Williams at 1:13, but could get no closer. At times, Danville led by as many as 30 points.
“They took it to us,” Frerichs said. “They play like that, they may upset a few teams in the postseason. They penetrated our man-to-man defense and moved the ball very well against our zone. We struggled at the end of the season.”
Jones finished with 14 points, nailing four field goals, three free throws and one trey. Tom Wood finished with 10 points, hitting two treys and two field goals. Danville had three athletes in double figures as Steven Williams and Devyn McGuire each scored 14 points. Victor Askew tallied 12 for the Vikings.
The contest marked the final home game for five Rantoul seniors as Cord Church, Space, Williams, Wood and Greg Morrow are graduating.
“The seniors have worked really hard,” Frerichs said. “I just wish we would have had them for four years. They contributed. I hope we can win that first game at regionals and send them out on a bright note.”
Rantoul finishes the regular season with an 11-16 overall record, 5-9 in the Corn Belt Conference.
In the junior varsity contest, Danville won a 51-28 decision.
TC Cooper scored eight points to lead the Eagles. Jay Hasse finished with seven, while Kenyatta Wilson added six. Danville was led by Anthony Thomas, who scored 13 points.
The Rantoul junior varsity team finished the season at 8-12.