Central rallies to top Danville in triple overtime
DANVILLE — Champaign Central continued one streak Tuesday night but broke another.
For the third consecutive game, coach Scott Davis’ Maroons needed overtime before deciding the outcome in a Big 12 Conference boys’ basketball game.
Fittingly, the third OT game in a row required three overtimes. The extra 12 minutes were what Central needed to prevail in games needing the extra time.
The Maroons rallied from a 12-point deficit at the outset of the fourth quarter (43-31) to deal Danville an 84-78 loss.
“For two teams that have struggled, the caliber of play was pretty good,” Davis said.
Especially good was Danville junior Denzel Smith. Smith scored a career-best 39 points and also collected a game-high 17 rebounds.
“Oh my goodness, what a talent,” Davis said. “He is so fluid and elevates and has such a nice jump shot. Numerous times, we were on him pretty well with a hand in his face.”
While the short-handed Vikings had one game-long standout, Central players took turns sharing the hero’s mantel.
In the fourth-quarter comeback — when Davis played all underclassmen — Davion Watson had nine of his 15 points and seven of his 13 rebounds. However, he was forced to spend all three OTs on the bench, icing a knee.
“He has a nose for the ball and really stepped up,” Davis said.
Senior Xavier Martin, who had two points and one rebound in regulation, scored five of Central’s eight points in the first OT and grabbed two rebounds.
“We needed him,” Davis said.
Danville scored to open the first and second overtimes, but the Maroons got on the board first in the final 4-minute period when Alec Altmyer drained a long three-pointer, giving Central a 74-71 advantage and a lead it never lost.
Danville, playing without three-point sharpshooter Marcus Merriweather due to a violation of school rules, finished 0 for 14 from beyond the arc. The 6-foot-6 Smith took up the slack.
“We said this week, ‘We need to get the ball to Denzel more,’ and he was aggressive, like we needed him to be,” Danville coach Ted Houpt said.
After suffering his second three-OT loss this season, Houpt said, “I need to find stronger words than frustrating. In a strange way, this is one of our most painful losses, but at the same time my proudest moment of the season.
“I’m secure with the effort and the game but sad the kids don’t get to feel the feel of a victory.”
With Merriweather on the bench in street clothes — along with Daniel Carter — Steven Williams took over the ballhandling duties and impressed Houpt.
“He did a great job and led us well,” Houpt said. “The people who stepped in played well.”
Watson and Kameron Rowan were Central’s top scorers with 15 points apiece. Sean Suggs added 14 points and Martin ended with nine. Watson and Rowan (11 rebounds) both had double-doubles.
Besides Smith, Danville’s other double-figure scorer was Kylen Butler (16 points).
Normal Community 42, Urbana 40. Conner Gremer had 14 points and eight rebounds, but host Tigers lost when Callen Boddie nailed a three-pointer with 36 seconds left. The Tigers were outscored 17-13 in the fourth quarter. Urbana, which had five players score four or more points, also got seven points from Donald McKinley.