Noe can do

Noe can do

MAHOMET — Prior to Chad Benedict's first season running the Mahomet-Seymour boys' basketball team, the coach held a hoops camp for youngsters. Benedict and his staff made the decision to name a most outstanding player at each grade level.

The winner among the first-grade participants in 2006 was Cory Noe, a good friend and classmate of Benedict's son, Noah.

Noe was also the reason the elder Benedict stopped handing out such awards at his camp.

"That's the last year we ever did it because I said, 'Cory is going to win it every single year,'" Benedict said. "He's always been good."

Noe, now a 6-foot-2 senior guard on Benedict's 12th M-S squad, is living up to that reputation. He tallied his 1,000th career point earlier this season and averages an even 20 points per game for M-S (15-6) heading into tonight's home game against Lincoln.

There's plenty that goes into making Noe the athlete he is. His father, Randy, played basketball at Blue Ridge. Noe is an intuitive player, which allows him to analyze his game and improve in necessary areas. And he's been surrounded by solid talent throughout his high school years.

But perhaps Noe's most useful attribute on the court is a proverbial fire that burns inside him.

"When I was younger, I was very, very competitive," Noe said, "to the point where if I'd lose, I'd be crying. It was just bad. But I've learned to control that more as I've gotten older."

Not that this aspect of Noe's personality has disappeared completely.

"That kid is a competitor," Benedict said. "He hates to lose. He plays the game with no fear. That's probably what makes him special."


Love at first sight

Noe began treating basketball more seriously around fifth or sixth grade, separating that venture from previous exploits in baseball and football. He said there wasn't a specific element that made the sport more appealing, outside of always being able to have a hand in the action.

When Noe decided to focus more on hoops, however, it showed. Saturdays often saw Noe trying to drag either Randy or mother Christina to the local fieldhouse to serve as a rebounder while Noe practiced his shot. Noe also had an easy excuse to attend and soak up M-S varsity games — home and away — with older sister Courtney being a Bulldog cheerleader.

As Noe witnessed Benedict's teams in action, Noah was often right there as well.

"It's been really cool," Noe said. "I can't imagine doing it with anybody else. It's cool to know we were up there sitting on the balcony when we were younger, and it's our time now."

Of course, Noe didn't simply sprout from a talented grade- and middle-schooler to a varsity star off the first dribble. A big aid, he said, was getting to take in M-S' super-sectional run during his freshman season as a late call-up from the Bulldogs' junior varsity team. The Bulldogs also won a regional crown during Noe's second season, when the sophomore was netting more playing time.

"I'd like to give some credit to some really good seniors who came before him," Benedict said. "That kid's had a lot of good guys in front of him to teach (him)."


Finding his voice

Noe transforming into a similar type of competitor hasn't required much change in his playing style. Benedict said Noe has always filled up the baskets, and Noe feels he's improved in such areas as getting to the rim and drawing fouls.

One area Noe has needed to work at, however, is being a more vocal leader. It's not something that comes naturally to Noe, who spurns individual attention in favor of team accolades and likes to let his play do the talking.

"I've tried to be a better communicator," Noe said. "I'm not great at it. I got to see how (the seniors before me) worked in practice and communicated. I've never been a big outgoing person, but I realize on the basketball court you've got to be vocal and communicate."

That's not only a teammate-to-teammate exploit, either. Benedict said Noe has little issue addressing the coaching staff directly about areas that are going well or with ideas for bettering the program. In turn, Noe bears the burden of Benedict and his assistants offering a more strenuous type of direction.

"One of the things I've told people is we're going to coach our best players and try to make them better," Benedict said. "He's accepted that. When our other players see him accepting that and see us really challenge him, it sends a message that that's how we do things."

Meanwhile, Noe applies his growth on the hardwood to endeavors beyond it. He garnered a 31 on his ACT and works with a freshman mentoring program at M-S. It makes sense, then, that the college basketball squads heavily interested in Noe — Augustana, Illinois Wesleyan and Olivet Nazarene — offer strong academic options as well.

"Whoever gets him, they're going to get a good kid who lives in the gym, is going to be a good teammate and work really hard and be solid in the classroom," Benedict said.

Noe said he isn't worrying about that part of his future until April, though. There's still the matter of eight remaining regular-season games — with a legitimate shot at winning the inaugural Apollo Conference crown — and the Bulldogs' involvement in the Class 3A postseason tournament, with M-S serving as a regional host.

"It'd be really cool to go out in our first year in the Apollo and go undefeated in it," Noe said. "I'd love to be able to make a run, and it'd be really cool to end on a high note."