Wells, Central bounce Danville
DANVILLE — What started as the coldest day of the winter ended with the hottest shooting night from Noah Wells.
The Champaign Central junior drained four consecutive first-quarter three-pointers Friday, and his fifth gave the Maroons the lead for good as they overpowered Danville 64-47 in a Big 12 Conference game.
Wells finished 6 of 10 from beyond the three-point arc and totaled a game-high 20 points. Both are varsity career highs.
“He was great,” Central coach Wayne McClain said. “He had a great practice Thursday and shot even better than he did in the game.
“On the drive over, I said to Sergio (McClain), ‘We’ve got to start him.’ He got us off to a great start.”
Before the game was 41/2 minutes old, Wells had buried four treys against the Vikings’ 2-3 zone defense. It’s what his coach was looking for.
“He’s in there to shoot the ball,” Wayne McClain said. “If he’s not doing that, he’s not helping us. When you have a guy like that making shots, it makes it a lot easier. He’s playing with a lot of confidence.”
Danville hung with the visitors throughout the first 11 minutes and held a 22-21 lead following a basket by Denzel Smith, who finished with 15 points.
At the 5:15 mark of the second period, Wells nailed his fifth three-pointer. Central’s lead was 24-22, and the Maroons never trailed thereafter.
If you watched the 6-foot-1 sharpshooter in warmups, a 20-point performance wouldn’t have been the prediction.
“It was not going well in pregame,” Wells said.
He took a philosophical approach.
“You can only miss so many,” he said, “and that gave me a little more motivation.”
He wasn’t overly concerned about his pregame accuracy. It’s a pattern he’s seen before.
“Usually when they’re not going in the pregame, they’re going in the game,” he said. “That’s why they call it warmups.”
His shooting and point guard Kam Rowan’s ability to distribute the ball kept Central ahead.
“A point guard has to be able to break defenses down and get you easy shots,” Wayne McClain said. “When he attacks like that, he causes people to help (on him), which leaves other people open.”
Davion Watson scored 11 points and Luke Beesley had eight for the Maroons, who took a 23-point lead (53-30) into the fourth quarter.
Danville coach Ted Houpt is a fan of long-range shooting but not when it’s from an opposing player.
“I like great shooting, but I wish it were in a different situation when I could sit back and admire it,” Houpt said. “It was impressive. Each one of those were daggers. It was hard to enjoy.”
Ten days after his team scored 34 points in a quarter at Urbana, Houpt’s Vikings had 30 points after three quarters Friday.
“We haven’t seen anything like that all year, and never in the last two years at home was I as embarrassed and not proud of what was going on,” Houpt said. “You have tough losses that are heart-wrenching, but this was a different kind of pain.
“People say over a long season, you ‘just don’t have it,’ but I don’t even know what that means. You just don’t have it? We played selfish, which is something I’ve never said, and without composure. It was not a good product, all the way from me at the top all the way down. It’s not who we are, and it’s not who we’re going to be.
“We had a bad night, but these kids have competed well and hard all year. I know we will be ready to play hard (today at home against MacArthur).”
Jarhed Watson, who had attempted three shots during the first three quarters, drilled four last-period three-pointers and led Danville with 17 points. Teammate Aubrey Duncan cleared a game-high eight rebounds.
Until the fourth quarter, Danville was 0 for 11 on three-pointers.