URBANA — There were some frowns and some head-shaking in the visiting team's locker room Friday night at Urbana Middle School, but neither were coming from Champaign Central's coach.
Scott Davis wasn't about to complain about a hard-earned 64-57 victory against an Urbana team that had won its previous three games.
"Our kids after the game, they felt like they didn't play a good game," Davis said. "But Urbana, they're a talented team. They're athletic. They've got some kids who can shoot it. They can get up and down the floor.
"So I was, hey, you come over to Urbana (and) you walk away with a win, I'm pleased."
The Maroons walked away holding on to a share of the Big 12 lead, too. Central and Normal Community remain atop the conference at 10-2 with one game left in the league race. Normal West fell to third place at 9-3 after losing 69-64 at Centennial.
Central never trailed but rarely could feel comfortable against a pressing Tigers team that kept charging back. The Maroons bolted to a 14-6 lead, only to see Urbana score the next eight points to tie it.
In the second quarter, Central built a 27-18 advantage, then saw it disappear in an 11-2 Tigers spurt.
"The first half, we broke their press, but we were just not finishing," Davis said. "That's what let them get back into it."
The Maroons seemingly were out of reach by early in the fourth quarter. An 8-2 run fueled by five points from guard Clayton Jones (18 points) lifted Central to its biggest lead at 54-37.
But the Tigers roared back, scoring 19 of the next 25 points. Forward Kaleb Smith ignited the comeback with a pair of three-pointers, and guard P.J. Blissit (18 points) capped the flurry with eight straight points.
With just under a minute left, Urbana was back within 60-56.
But Corvon Butler got behind the Urbana press for a stuff to put Central back up by six, and the Tigers managed one point the rest of the way.
"Down the stretch, we just didn't execute," Urbana coach Vashoune Russell said.
The Maroons committed 23 turnovers, but that was more than offset by their 38-23 edge in rebounds.
"We're the Mighty Mites and everybody else is the Giants," Russell said. "We've got to do a little more pushing than the next team because we are the smaller team. Down the stretch, we kind of stopped pushing."
Centennial 69, Normal West 64. Devin Carter had 24 points in a home win.
Danville 76, Bloomington 71. Dennis Hightower scored 24 points and Jaron Cunningham 21 for the host Vikings.