NORMAL — Moline High School's Drew Wiemers left Saturday's nonconference basketball game at Normal Community at the 1:56 mark of the first quarter holding his face after taking a knee to the mouth in a scramble for a loose ball.
Wiemers returned with a stitch and gauze in his mouth, but the discomfort was felt more by NCHS.
The 6-foot-3 junior scored 15 of his game-high 20 points in the second half as the Maroons defeated the Ironmen, 54-40.
"The Wiemers kid was great," NCHS coach Dave Witzig said.
"He's a tough kid," said Moline coach Sean Taylor. "He just came out and battled. He gives up height every game, but nobody out competes him."
Ranked No. 10 in Class 4A, the Maroons improved to 18-6, while NCHS slipped to 17-7.
"You have to give Moline credit," Witzig said. "They had a tough, arch rival loss last night at Rock Island. They got on the bus, came here and did a great job against us."
NCHS had difficulty deciphering the Maroons' 1-3-1 zone and little success shooting over it. The Ironmen were 5 of 25 (20 percent) from 3-point range and 15 of 46 (32.6 percent) overall.
"We wanted to somehow contain (Daylen) Boddie. He's so strong and quick with the ball," said Taylor. "We didn't always get it done. But they missed some threes, and I thought we did a really good job rebounding."
Moline scored 11 straight first-half points (last six of the first quarter and first five of the second period) for a 19-8 lead that stood at 21-13 entering halftime.
Two third-quarter buckets from Jalen Coleman brought the Ironmen within 23-19, but Coleman picked up his fourth foul at the 4:57 mark of the quarter and headed to the bench.
NCHS again chopped its deficit from 12 to four at 31-27 on five CJ Christian points and a Boddie 3-pointer. But the Maroons answered with a 9-1 surge to cap the third period.
The Ironmen progressed as close as 44-37 in the fourth quarter on a Coleman 3-pointer. Again, Moline rebuffed NCHS, this time with superior free throw shooting. The Maroons nailed all 13 second-half attempts from the line and were 18 of 20 overall.
"We're close to 70 percent as a team," Taylor said. "When you get the right guys to the line, your percentage goes up. We have four guys shooting 75 percent-plus."
Coleman paced the Ironmen with 14 points and Christian added 11 and a team-high six rebounds as Moline enjoyed a 29-21 advantage on the boards.
NCHS played without 6-foot-7 senior CJ Wilbourn, who bumped his head on the floor early in Friday's loss at Peoria Manual.
"He got a concussion last night so he had to sit out tonight. That hurt," Witzig said. "It was just a tough weekend for us."
Deonte Billups registered 18 points and a game-high nine rebounds for Moline. Brody Harding chipped in 12 points.