NORMAL — The Normal West High School basketball team tried to put the clamps on Cortez Mosely on Friday, but the 6-foot-4 senior put Peoria Richwoods in overdrive on the way to a 53-34 Big 12 Conference victory.
The Knights — led by Mosely’s 18 points, three dunks and seven rebounds — improved to 5-2 overall and 2-0 in the Big 12 while the Wildcats, despite Shea Cupples’ 15 points, fell to 2-4 and 1-1.
Mosely opened the scoring with a steal and dunk. Richwoods later went up, 15-4, on another steal-and-dunk combo by Mosely, who is being recruited by Northern Illinois and Western Michigan among others.
Mosely finished his 8-of-15 shooting effort with an alley oop dunk off a pass from Willie Anderson that put the Knights up, 49-32, with 2:13 left.
“He’s a good athlete, especially in the open floor,” said West coach Brian Cupples of Mosely. “I thought we bottled him up in the half court.”
Khalel Danage sank three 3-pointers as the Knights built a 28-16 halftime lead. Danage finished with 13 points to help Richwoods outshoot its host from the field, .535 to .346.
Brian Cupples blamed the loss on the Wildcats’ 19 turnovers compared to 15 by the Knights.
“Out of the gate we turned it over and they got the momentum,” he said. “I don’t know if our defense was horrible, but we gave them a lot of extra possessions and offensive rebounds.”
Richwoods won the battle of the boards, 20-14, as no Wildcat managed more than two rebounds.
“They came in, played hard and got after us,” said Cupples, whose team opened the third quarter with an inside basket by Shea Cupples and a three-point play by Evan Hutson to get within 28-21.
West followed with back-to-back turnovers as Richwoods went on a 7-0 run. The Wildcats’ last gasp came as Shea Cupples made four free throws during a 6-2 run to cut it to 37-27. That surge began with a fastbreak layup by Cole Hernandez, who finished with 10 points with help from two 3-pointers.
The younger Cupples made all eight of his free throw attempts.
“He needs to knock down a few more shots from the perimeter,” said his father.
A three-point play by Mosely, who came in averaging 19 points, sparked a 9-0 run to make it 46-27 with 3:28 left. That flurry included three West turnovers.
“He can really get up,” said Knight coach William Smith of Mosely. “He’s a difference maker. He can get you points and he plays defense really well.”
Smith had no complaints with his team's defense.
“It’s the best I’ve seen them rotate all year long,” he said. “We knew coming into the game, they put five shooters on the floor. Our focus was to make them do something other than just shoot the ball."