NORMAL — A high-flying, high-scoring first quarter gave the Champaign Central High School basketball team an air of invincibility Friday.
Normal Community punctured the Maroons’ early dominance but never enjoyed a lead of its own in a 63-56 loss in the Big 12 Conference opener for both teams.
“We gave up 22 points the first quarter. That’s going to be a big hole for us,” NCHS coach Dave Witzig said. “They are very talented offensively and they play hard. They have a lot of different guys who can shoot."
Back-to-back dunks from Khailieo Terry and Tim Finke handed Champaign (3-1) an 11-6 lead, and a Finke 3-pointer helped the Maroons extend their margin to 22-12 through one quarter.
“They did a pretty nice job the first quarter,” said Maroons coach Jeff Finke. “Our guys have come together and they’re playing hard. They understand what we’re trying to do.”
The Ironmen (3-2) reeled off the initial nine points of the second quarter on a rebound bucket and a steal and layup from CJ Christian, a Blake Foster 3-pointer and a Jalen Coleman inside basket.
NCHS forged a 24-24 tie on a Daylen Boddie 3-pointer and trailed 28-26 entering halftime.
“Coach Witzig’s teams are always ready to play, and they always hang around,” Coach Finke said. “They compete and they’re tough. When you play tough, you have chances to win.
"That's what they did. But our guys made a lot of free throws down the stretch and took care of the ball a lot better the second half.”
A 7-0 third-quarter spurt capped by a Tim Finke fadeaway jumper gave the Maroons a 40-31 edge. NCHS would rally within four later in that quarter and five in the fourth period.
“We just don’t quite have everything going the right direction at the same time,” said Witzig. “We have a lot of work to do. In back-to-back games we’ve allowed teams to score over 60, and it’s hard for us to win those games.”
Boddie scored 11 of his team-high 16 points in the fourth quarter for the Ironmen. Christian added 13 and Foster nine. CJ Wilbourn chipped in eight points and a team-high nine rebounds.
A Grand Canyon recruit, Tim Finke topped all scorers with 25 and Jonte Coleman had 12.
“It all centered around Finke. He’s a great player,” Witzig said. “We’ve faced a Finke for like 10 years in a row now. It will be good to see no more Finkes in Champaign anymore.”
NCHS hit slightly more than half of its shots both overall (22 of 41) and from 3-point range (8 of 15), but were hampered by 17 turnovers and 4 of 11 free throw accuracy.