Nothing normal about Brigham's effort

NORMAL – When Mikel Brigham does a self-evaluation, he sees something missing.

"I feel underrated," the Danville junior said.

The best way to change perceptions, he has learned, is through performance. Folks in Normal are believing in the 6-foot-5 center.

One night after he had a 19-point, 15-rebound, five-block game at Normal Community, Brigham put together a 23-point, 14-rebound, three-block effort Saturday at Normal University High. The Vikings won 46-36, extending their win streak to three.

The Brigham of the past would follow up an outstanding game with an average one.

"I might have a big game, then a couple games later, eight points," he said. "Tonight, I refused to go down without a fight."

Fifteen of his points and eight of his rebounds came in the second half.

"His greatest adversary is himself," Danville coach Gary Tidwell said. "In the first half, the student section took him out (mentally) and he got frustrated. I talked to him about keeping his composure."

Brigham changed his approach in the second half.

"They kept talking to my ears," he said. "In the second half, I started smiling to show I wasn't frustrated and they seemed to not say as much."

Said U-High coach Bob Fitzgerald: "Brigham's a great player, and he killed us on the boards. Gary's team has done a great job playing well and under control."

Daveon Allen had eight points and 11 rebounds for the Vikings, who play their third road game in a five-day period Tuesday when they travel to Centennial.

U-High is 11-8 after its seven-game winning streak was snapped. The Pioneers controlled the tempo effectively, surrounding Brigham in the middle and trying to force Danville to shoot from the perimeter.

Freshman D'Lando Carter made a three-pointer in the game's opening minute, but all of the Vikings' subsequent three-point tries were off target.

"They tempted us to take those shots, and we have to get to the point where we can step in the gaps and knock them down," Tidwell said. "We don't have a lot of pure shooters, but we have a lot of rhythm players."

Fitzgerald said he had no choice but to slow the tempo.

"If we get in a running game with them, they'd run us out of the gym," Fitzgerald said.

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