NORMAL — Champaign Centennial’s full-court pressure defense was a thorn in the side for the Normal Community High School basketball team all evening Tuesday.
The Ironmen made sure that thorn did little damage, minimizing turnovers while capturing a 63-51 Big 12 Conference victory.
NCHS (12-3 overall, 3-1 in the Big 12) committed just six first-half turnovers while grasping a 16-point lead and never let its lead dip below 10 in the second half.
“They do a good job putting pressure on us,” Ironmen coach Dave Witzig said. “I thought we did a good job handling the ball facing the basket and got some easy shots.”
Senior guard Daylen Boddie scored five of his game-high 17 points in the final 50 seconds of the first quarter for a 19-10 NCHS advantage.
“Daylen made some great decisions, bounce passes for layups for guys,” said Witzig. “We shared the ball well. When we handled the pressure and were able to get into our offense and get it where we wanted it, we did a nice job.”
A Sam Flowers 3-pointer at the 3:57 mark of the second quarter brought Centennial (7-8, 0-4) within 25-19.
NCHS closed the half on an 11-1 surge that featured a four-point possession. Boddie hit a shot from the lane and was fouled. Joseph Lippert snared the rebound after the missed free throw and scored.
“It kind of makes us go a little faster than we normally go,” Boddie said of the press. “We’ve got to take care of the ball more often. Coach always tells us to be patient with it and let the game come to us instead of being ahead of ourselves and turning the ball over.”
Two third-quarter 3-pointers from Blake Foster and one from Boddie helped NCHS pull out to a 49-26 advantage.
“We played good defense and tried to make it tough on (Bryson) Cowper, their star,” said Witzig. “It was going to be an up and down game. Big 12 teams are very athletic, and Centennial is one of those teams.”
CJ Wilbourn added 15 points, Foster nine and Evan Pogge eight for NCHS. Boddie grabbed six rebounds and Lippert five as the Ironmen controlled the boards by a 33-15 margin.
Dayton Coleman led the Chargers with 15 points, Cowper chipped in 14 and Flowers 13. Centennial missed nine of its 17 free throws and shot 41 percent from the floor.
NCHS connected on 7 of 9 first-quarter attempts and finished at 57 percent shooting. The Ironmen had a total of 15 turnovers.