DANVILLE – With each day, Trey McCorkle thinks he's one step closer to fully recovering from an ankle injury that cost him a month of his senior season.
Bismarck-Henning's 6-foot-10 center is running up and down the court, blocking shots and hitting the floor for loose balls. He's just not doing it in long enough stretches to suit himself or his sixth-ranked Class 2A teammates.
"It's getting better," McCorkle said Tuesday night after helping his team make short work of archrival Schlarman, 71-37. "I can do more every day."
Against the Hilltoppers, the Blue Devils' senior big man showed spurts of his old self, tallying 12 points and grabbing four rebounds in limited playing time. With the injury (torn ligaments) becoming less of a factor every day, conditioning has become his main focus. After carrying his 240-pound frame up and down the court enough times to know, he admitted he still has a ways to go.
"It's a little setback right now," McCorkle said. "It's kind of downhill right now. It's getting better, though."
Fortunately for B-H (20-2 overall, 9-0 Vermilion Valley Conference), McCorkle doesn't have to carry the load. Senior guard Gabe Bergman shook off the flu to net a game-high 18 points, and backcourt mate Murad Abbed added 15 points, eight rebounds, four assists and three steals.
In all, four Blue Devils reached double digits in scoring (Justin Fredericks pitched in with 10), with role players Michael Boggess (four points, two rebounds) and Michael Grant contributing quality minutes.
"It's a big help having those two coming off the bench," Bergman said. "He's (Boggess) a big asset to our team. But it's a lot easier to score when we have that big 6-10 kid in there."
McCorkle's presence makes it easier to coach, too. B-H coach Mike Reynolds is as eager as anyone to have his go-to guy back at full strength, but he is pleased with the way the rest of the team is playing as the postseason draws near.
"Tonight was more about us: We had to come ready to play," Reynolds said. "On any given night someone can beat you. Last year in this exact game Schlarman beat us at home, and that was kind of our focus tonight. I thought for the most part we were ready tonight. Trey's getting closer to 100 percent, and we're getting closer to where we were at the beginning of the season."
The fact the Hilltoppers upset the Blue Devils nearly one year ago was hard for the Blue Devils to forget.
"He (Reynolds) reminded us every day for the last week," McCorkle said.
That night was a distant memory for Schlarman coach Pat Kelly, who watched in frustration as his team fell to 0-24. The Hilltoppers trailed 24-14 after one quarter and 38-22 at halftime before the Blue Devils put the game away with a 23-8 third quarter.
"Bismarck is an awfully good team, and we knew that coming in," Kelly said. "The last couple of times we have played them it hasn't even been close. We haven't put up much of an effort."
Freshman Heath Goodwin and senior guard Nick Pellegrini led the Hilltoppers with eight points each.