NORMAL — If ever there is a welcoming scenario for a letdown, a late-season nonconference game against an under .500 opponent is it.
The Normal Community High School basketball team simply was not biting Tuesday.
The Ironmen scored the game's first seven points and did not relent while tripling up Limestone, 54-18, at NCHS Gymnasium.
"It was a good, solid win," Ironmen coach Dave Witzig said. "This was an important game for us. A lot of guys got to play. Nine guys scored and we got to work on some things."
Ranked fourth in Class 4A, NCHS hiked its record to 23-3.
Limestone (7-19) missed its first eight shots and did not dent the scoreboard until a Mike Dunne driving bucket at the 1:32 mark of the first quarter.
"We started the game off with three turnovers," said Witzig. "After that, I thought we played really well and made it hard for Limestone to score."
CJ Wilbourn, the Ironmen's 6-foot-7 senior, scored the first eight points of the second quarter on three inside baskets and two free throws as the NCHS cushion swelled to 17-2.
"The game was still close after the first quarter so the second quarter we had an emphasis on getting the ball inside," Wilbourn said. "That goes through me. I'm happy we were able to spread out the lead and get a big lead going into halftime."
Wilbourn scored 12 of his 17 points in the second quarter as the Ironmen advantage stood at 29-9 entering halftime.
The Rockets connected on just 4 of 19 first-half shots, finished at 8 of 39 (20.5 percent) overall and 2 of 20 (10 percent) from 3-point range. Limestone missed its only free throw.
"Limestone was cold and we took advantage of that," said Witzig. "CJ in the middle had such a height advantage. He was able to control the boards and the paint on both sides. We worked from the inside out, and we were able to get some wide open threes because of that."
The Ironmen led 38-11 after a third quarter 3-pointer from Blake Foster and 42-13 when Dishon Hall put back a rebound basket with four seconds to play in the period.
"Every game is important," said Wilbourn, who sparked the Ironmen to a 34-24 edge on the boards with 10 rebounds. "We have to keep improving as a team. We wanted to come out strong and be focused from the very beginning."
Daylen Boddie added eight points for NCHS, which shot 42 percent from the field (19 of 45).
Dunne and Ashton Gray topped the Rockets with four points apiece.