NORMAL | Something about the State Farm Holiday Classic that usually brings out the best in Normal Community High School’s basketball team.
The 10th-seeded Ironmen played their best game of the season Wednesday, never giving favored T.F. North a chance. Defending champion Normal used a balanced scoring attack to roll past the No. 7-seeded Meteors, 52-29, in a Large School Boys Bracket first-round game at the Normal West Gym.
“We’ve had a rough couple-week stretch. Today we did what we were trying to do,” said Ironmen coach Dave Witzig, as his team improved to 4-5. “The guys found the open man and passed well today. We really shared the ball well today.
“They really put a lot of pressure on you. They want you to go pass. Once we beat the press we got some layups and were able to set our defense, and they had to go against a five-man defense most of the day. That was a huge advantage for us.”
Sophomore Alex Peacock paced Normal with 12 points, while Tyler Seibring and Callen Boodie added 10 points each. Trevor Seibring chipped in eight points and six rebounds.
“I love that stuff. If you look at the scorebook there were a lot of guys who contributed and shared the ball,” said Witzig. “It wasn’t just a one-man show. It was a bunch of guys playing together.”
T.F. North (9-2), playing in the Classic for the first time, never found any rhythm. The Meteors shot 25 percent in the first half (5 of 20) in falling behind, 24-13.
It didn’t get any better after the intermission. T.F. North went 3 of 21 from the field in the second half as Normal steadily built its lead.
“We were just not ready to play. They came to play hard. They’re the home team, and you have to be ready to play,” said Meteors’ coach Tim Bankston. “I don’t know if it was something they did or too much Christmas dinner for us. It was not the ball club I’m used to seeing from us. They’re kids. You never know what you’re going to get. We got our butts kicked.”
Deland Deere scored a game-high 13 points to lead the Meteors, while Nicholas Wood added 10. T.F. North had only five players who scored.
“We’ve played a lot of tough teams. Today we got beat in transition. That’s unheard of,” Bankston said. “They just didn’t have effort today. You can’t coach effort. That’s something the kids have to have. If we don’t have effort, we’re not that good. We’re a blue collar team. We have to outwork people.”