NORMAL — The Normal West High School basketball team displayed an impressive second-half defensive effort Tuesday night, holding Mahomet-Seymour without a fourth-quarter score until the 1:35 mark in a 58-51 nonconference victory.
A 3-pointer by Normal West’s Shea Cupples at the 2:25 mark in the third broke a 39-39 tie. Cupples led the Wildcats with 17 points, 15 of which came in the second half. Each team was held scoreless for the remainder of the quarter.
An 8-0 run to begin the fourth quarter put the Wildcats ahead 50-39 with 2:55 remaining. The Wildcats elected to run the clock down, as the Bulldogs struggled to get the ball back. Mahomet-Seymour’s first point of the fourth period came on a Cole Lener free throw with 1:22 left.
“We were having a hard time stopping them from scoring,” Normal West head coach Brian Cupples said. “After we got to that three- or five-point lead we kept the ball out of their hands. Our guys did a great job of taking care of the ball.”
Two treys by Braden Finch cut it to 57-51 with 25.3 seconds remaining, but it was not enough. Free throws from Shea Cupples and Alec McGinnis sealed the deal for the Wildcats.
The Bulldogs scored the first bucket of the game and led almost the entirety of the first half. Two free throws from Connor Kamphaus gave them a 9-4 lead with 4:22 remaining in the first quarter.
The foul was the second on Normal West starting center Corey Walker, prompting a bench call to 6-foot-7 junior center Tyler Calhoun. Calhoun gave the Wildcats an offensive spark, scoring five of their next seven points.
He added two more of his 10 points to begin the second period to cut the Bulldogs’ lead to 16-13.
Despite 13 first-half points from 6-7 center Grant Coleman of the Bulldogs, the Wildcats took their first lead at 24-23 on back-to-back post scores by Evan Hutson. Two more buckets from Hutson gave the Wildcats a 28-27 halftime advantage. Hutson finished with 12 points.
“Tyler Calhoun has been good for us the past three or four games,” Brian Cupples said. “Happy for him, he has really worked hard. Evan Hutson was big off the bench for us too. It was a really good team win.”