In Wayne's world, Central expects success
CHAMPAIGN — In his first six years as a high school basketball head coach, Wayne McClain’s Peoria Manual teams never won less than a regional title.
In Year 1 this season at Champaign Central, the streak continued. He inherited a team that was 5-20, and 13 of the 15 players who scored points were underclassmen. McClain’s mantra is one reason the Maroons are back in the sectional.
“The one thing I wanted to establish, not just in the state but anywhere, is a work ethic,” McClain said. “We’re a blue-collar team. No one will outwork us.
“When practice is over, they can open their Gatorade, put on their music and have fun. While we’re here (at practice), we’re serious. Everything is crisp. We never walk. We try to simulate game situations in everything we do.”
The Maroons (17-10) play second-ranked Springfield Lanphier (25-1) in a Class 3A sectional semifinal Tuesday night. McClain believes anything can happen.
“They’re good, no doubt,” he said. “They have a great leader in Larry (Austin Jr.). We have to handle the pressure and not let them rattle us. We look at it (pressure) every night. We pressure each other.”
McClain has lost count of how many different lineup combinations he has used. He started a different group in the regional finals than in the regional semifinals.
“If I start five, there’s five more that could start,” he said. “That’s to our advantage. You have to come work every day.”
McClain plans to start the group that opened the regional finals vs. Centennial: Luke Beesley, Dominique Brize, Kameron Rowan, Isiah Smith and Davion Watson.