URBANA – Improved confidence appears to be the key to success for the Urbana girls' basketball team.
"We started to play better as a team once we got our confidence up," senior Camille Parsons said Thursday after scoring 14 points to lead the Tigers to a 38-18 Big 12 Conference win against Danville. "I felt real confident tonight and was able to hit my shots. We've also been able to run the ball better lately."
Balanced scoring and defense came to the front Thursday as all five starters contributed a field goal and the defense forced five turnovers to send the Tigers to a 10-2 first-quarter lead. Parsons hit a pair of three-pointers in the second period as the Tigers expanded their lead to 24-7 at halftime.
Though Parsons was the only Urbana player in double figures, three other starters scored four or more points. Jasmine Gay finished with eight, Amy Gray had six and Mandy Kirby four. Janelle Hensold had four three-pointers and accounted for 16 of Danville's 18 points.
"We talked about getting off to a good start," Urbana coach Aimee Smith said. "We were able to do that as we set the tempo with our defense.
"Parsons had a great night. She played good defense and knocked down some key shots. She had a good all-around game. Her teammates also did a good job of finding her."
Smith was pleased with her team's consistent effort.
"We've been a little inconsistent all year," Smith said. "I thought we did a good job of playing strong for the entire game tonight. We do a good job when we play together as a team like we did tonight. Our balance makes us tough to defend. We don't have any go-to player, but all our players are capable. Anyone can step up and score on a given night."
One of the Tigers' goals is to win the conference championship. Parsons thinks the Tigers are in good position to reach that goal.
"I think we can do it if we continue to play the way we did tonight," the second-year starter said. "This was probably our best defensive game of the year. We came together and didn't let up. We have to keep playing with confidence. We have one of the best point guards in the conference in Mandy Kirby. We have another advantage with most of us being seniors. I think we have improved since last season. We lost some good players, but we've filled in the holes quite well. The key for me is to make sure my confidence stays up."
Centennial 43, Champaign Central 39
Areil Moore had a game-high 17 points and 14 rebounds to lead the host Chargers (6-10), who won in overtime. Rachael Follmer and Megan Mast each recorded six points and four assists for Centennial.
Okeima Hampton tallied 11 points to pace the Maroons.