High-flying Maroons have a little fun

CHAMPAIGN – Champaign Central basketball coach Scott Davis rarely goes deep into his bench.

Friday night against Mattoon, every Maroon set foot on the floor.

No, there wasn't a bench-clearing brawl in Harry Combes Gym, but a brutal beating was handed down to the Green Wave in the form of an 85-27 Champaign Central Big 12 Conference win.

"We talked about that we had to come out and play with intensity because we knew that Mattoon was going to try and limit our number of offensive opportunities," Davis said.

Central needed no time to find its shooting touch as the Maroons scored 21 first-quarter points. The Green Wave's offense made a later entrance as its first points came with 21 seconds to play in the first quarter.

"We thought that we could get out on them defensively and get some steals," Davis said. "It was a good effort defensively."

The Champaign Central students, normally on their feet, stayed glued to their seats during a game that was never in doubt. Always wanting to put on a good show for their home crowd, the Maroons dunked the ball six times in emphatic fashion.

The highlight of the game came in the third quarter when Lamont Johnson threw the ball off the backboard to a trailing Jordan Walker, who stuffed it home.

"At first I thought he was going to lay it up, but I went up and got it," Walker said. "I'm gonna remember that for a long time."

As if getting significant minutes wasn't enough for the Maroons, each player scored at least four points.

"We're pleased with the guys who came off the bench," Davis said. "In a game like this it's easy to start doing silly things, and I thought that the guys who came off the bench did a good job of sharing the ball and still trying to do the things that we wanted to do."

Junior guard Verdell Jones helped set the tone of spreading the ball around early for Champaign Central.

Jones, normally a potent scoring threat, scored eight points but decided to distribute the ball to his teammates a little more.

"Mattoon isn't the greatest team we've played, and I didn't feel like I needed to come out and score every point," Jones said. "I wanted to come out and distribute, play hard and still respect the game of basketball."

Senior guard Cam Strang led all scorers with 16 points while junior Donald Stewart contributed 14. Stewart didn't have the stat book on his mind, though.

"We needed a win because we have been 0-2 in our last two games," Stewart said. "We got on them early and never let up. Coach has been talking about intensity and wanted to get prepared for later games."

Stewart and the rest of Maroons still managed to have some fun while maintaining their level of intensity. The forward's high-flying moment came in the first quarter off a steal.

"The dunk was nice, but I hurt my hand because I dunked it hard," Stewart said, chuckling. "It was fun. We got the crowd into it, and my teammates got involved."

After the game, Davis was all business. Though the game was incredibly lopsided, Davis wanted his kids to remain focused on improving their game.

"There are things that we talked about in practice that we wanted to emphasize," Davis said. "We wanted to look for the open man and improve our offensive rebounding, and I kept reminding the guys of those things throughout the game."

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