Central can deep six Big 12 drought
CHAMPAIGN — Champaign Central can clinch its first Big 12 boys' basketball title in six years with a victory Friday night against Danville at Combes Gym.
The Maroons enter their conference finale tied for the lead with defending champion Normal Community at 10-2, one game in front of third-place Normal West. Tipoff is at about 7:30.
"We went into the season thinking that we would be in the mix," Maroons coach Scott Davis said Wednesday. "We knew that Normal (Community) finished fourth in the state last year (in Class 4A) and had a lot of kids back. We recognized Normal West was going to be a good team, and there are other good teams around. But we thought if we played to our abilities that we had a chance."
Central last won the conference during the 2005-06 season, when it shared the crown with Decatur Eisenhower. In the ensuing five seasons, four different schools have won Big 12 titles.
"If we could win that, that would be great," Davis said. "It doesn't come along every year. It's an accomplishment."
In their lone previous meeting this season, Central defeated host Danville 72-55 on Jan. 6 behind 22 points by senior forward Corvon Butler.
The Vikings are tied for sixth place in the 10-team league at 6-6. The Vikings have won two of their last three Big 12 games, with the lone loss by six points to Normal West.
"Danville's a team that's a scary team," Davis said. "They're playing a little better. They played Normal West down to the wire."
The Vikings are led by senior guard Dennis Hightower, who has averaged 20.2 points in his last five games.
"When you look at Danville, you see a lot of good athletes," Davis said. "You see a lot of kids in that 6-2 to 6-4 range, long-and-lanky type of basketball player. And they've got arguably one of the best guards in the conference in Hightower.
"This time of the year, any given night, we've got to come out and do it. But with their athleticism, it's a challenge."