Vikings are more than a one-man show

Vikings are more than a one-man show

DANVILLE — Kendle Moore, more often than not, is going to put up plenty of points for the Danville boys' basketball team. Coach Ted Houpt knows this and considers it fun to watch Moore go to work in each game.

But with the Vikings frequently squaring off against difficult opponents, the Drake signee can't do it alone.

And, luckily for Danville, the senior guard hasn't had to as the Vikings gear up for Friday night's Big 12 showdown against Champaign Central at Combes Gym.

While Moore has poured in as many as 31 points in a game during the Vikings' 6-0 start, his teammates are constantly sharing the complementary scoring load.

Junior Sean Houpt tallied 22 points last Saturday night in Danville's 91-58 win against La Salette. Seniors Caleb Griffin and Day'len Davis-Williams each potted seven points in a low-scoring 43-35 win against Lincoln, while Houpt and Griffin netted 15 and 12, respectively, in a 68-58 win against Cahokia. Senior Jerry Reed and sophomore Adam Forthenberry dumped 12 points apiece against Limestone in a season-opening 91-34 victory.

"It's a great luxury to know there's not any pressure on any one person," Ted Houpt said. "A different night, it could be a different guy."

That's not even considering senior Julian Pearl, a 6-foot-7 Illinois football commit, or talented 6-3 freshman Tevin Smith, who is currently coming off the bench for the veteran-laden Vikings.

"We can work him in slowly and we can get him acclimated to varsity basketball," Houpt said of Smith. "And he's starting to play more each game. Before all is said and done, he'll be a factor in our rotation."

Houpt certainly will turn to Moore and other upperclassmen, however, this week.

After Friday night's game in Champaign, the Vikings will travel north for a 3 p.m. tip on Sunday against Chicago Orr, the reigning Class 2A state champion, in the Team Rose Shootout at Chicago Mt. Carmel.

"Going into the season thinking it'd be nice to win the Big 12 ... we'd love to get that one game early and play from ahead a little bit," Houpt said. "Then to follow up with Orr — they were preseason No. 1 in the polls and got a couple players on top of their state title (team). Playing up in that atmosphere is going to be exciting for the kids."

Maroons tested early

Jeff Finke doesn't want his Central boys' basketball team to have things easy.

The third-year Maroon leader had his squad open the 2017-18 season with tilts against Springfield Southeast, Decatur Eisenhower and MacArthur — all teams Central could have met for a Class 3A sectional title last season. Those games followed with matchups against Big 12 foe Normal Community and reigning 3A state champion Morgan Park and Illinois signee Ayo Dosunmu.

So it's safe to say Finke is, at the very least, content the Maroons came away from that rugged slate with a 3-2 record, including 1-0 in league action.

"They really don't back down," Finke said of his Maroons. "I'm proud of the effort and just their overall grit. All in all, it's been a good year."

Finke was especially pleased with his team's resolve in the 82-66 loss to Morgan Park. A night game at Normal Community last Friday meant the Maroons did not arrive in Chicago until 1:30 a.m. Saturday. That was followed by an 8 a.m. banquet, as part of the Chicago Elite Classic, and then the late afternoon game against Morgan Park.

"They've faced a lot of adversity," Finke said. "They just ran out of gas."

Central is receiving contributions across the board, as well. Senior Tim Finke, Jeff's son and a Grand Canyon signee, has been backed up — and occasionally surpassed — by fellow starters A'Kieon Gill, Jonte Coleman, Jaden Aikens and Khailieo Terry. The former three are seniors, though only Gill had seen regular starting time before this season. Meanwhile, Terry is just a freshman.

"He's given us great minutes," Jeff Finke said of Terry. "It's not easy to play varsity basketball as a freshman. We have to put him in a position to succeed."

Danville, which won 79-75 in the teams' lone meeting last season, visits Friday.

"It's a heck of a matchup," Finke said. "Our guys know each other, they've played AAU together. It's a friendly rivalry, but a rivalry nonetheless."

Falcons' leader hits 200

With the Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley football program capturing the school's first state championship in any sport late last month, the spotlight wasn't quite around coach Ryan Tompkins' boys' basketball outfit — or any other Falcon squad, for that matter.

But Tompkins still found recognition last week when GCMS defeated Flanagan-Cornell 67-49 for Tompkins' 200th career coaching triumph.

"I knew just in the offseason that it was approaching," he said hours before his Falcons defeated Tri-Valley 56-47 on Tuesday for win No. 201. "I wasn't counting the minutes because it was so hectic with football transitioning."

But those close to Tompkins were looking out for him. Assistant coach AJ Richard reached out to cheer sponsor Miranda Leonard about the upcoming milestone. Leonard, husband Tim and the GCMS cheerleaders created plenty of celebratory signage with which to serenade Tompkins after No. 200 was in the bank.

"It's been a lot of great people, a lot of great assistants and a lot of quality kids," said Tompkins, who is in his 14th season leading the Falcons. "There were seasons we didn't win many games, but our staff worked very hard, and our kids worked very hard."

Of course, GCMS' 5-1 start this season speaks volumes about its athletes as well. After two games with a shorthanded group due to football's success, the Falcons have rattled off four straight victories.

And while junior Ryland Holt, a leading wide receiver for GCMS football, has been a critical offensive weapon on the court, the contributions of juniors Connor Birky, Chris Hood and Caleb Bleich — three guys who don't suit up for coach Mike Allen's gridiron squad — are far from unnoticed.

"They set the tone for the younger kids and what kind of culture we want to establish," Thompson said, "and that gave us a group that competed."