DANVILLE – It is a paradox seldom seen on the losing sidelines.
Following a Friday boys' basketball game where Danville coach Gary Tidwell called his team's performance "a disappointment," there was also a strong sense that the bottom had been reached and the Vikings' upward ascension had begun.
Interspersed with the dreadful (11 fourth-quarter turnovers, 1-for-5 accuracy from the free throw line and no shots attempted by season scoring leader Stanley Tyler after the first quarter), there was also a sincere reason for hope.
It started with the return of senior Ronny Bell, who had been sidelined for academic reasons since Dec. 1. He showed flashes of promise after entering in the second quarter, scoring eight points and hitting all four of his field goals on penetration moves to the basket.
"He's our best athlete and gives us more options on the offensive end," said Tidwell, who said an adjustment period is required as Bell works his way back after a nine-game absence. "He hasn't played in a long time and chemistry-wise, we're a little off, but with him in the mix, we should be more competitive."
Sophomore center Mikel Brigham, in his fourth varsity start, produced his third double-double. He was the game's dominant player, leading everyone with 17 points and 11 rebounds.
Brigham scored the maximum number of points possible. He was 8 for 8 from the field and 1 for 1 from the free throw line.
In his previous three starts, Brigham had averaged nearly 13 shots a game.
"This (Normal) team and their style of play took us out of our game," Tidwell said. "Our strength is our penetration game and they took that away."
The Ironmen also denied the Vikings another usual source of points while winning a varsity game on Danville's court for the first time in the 12 years Dave Witzig has been on the staff.
"The tempo was perfect for what we needed to do," said Witzig, whose squad did not allow Danville a point in transition during the final 24 1/2 minutes.
He had a premonition that Friday could be a special night.
"I felt we might be ready to make a run," he said. "We had our best four practices in a row."
Danville was returning to action following a 10-day layoff. Tidwell had hoped to see more benefits from seven practices without a game.
"Practice is a good thing," he said, "and we went pretty hard."
The Vikings return to action for a rare matinee game today, playing host to Romeoville in a 2:30 varsity tipoff. The early start will allow the game to finish in time for the school's evening Hall of Fame ceremony when the 1950 state runner-up team (which was known as the Maroons) will be inducted into the Danville Athletic Hall of Fame.
Friday's game started following a moment of silence for area referee Clive Hornstein, 52, who died on Thursday 21 months after he was diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer. Hornstein was a frequent official at Danville games.