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Prep Sports

Wildcats unite for victory over Cougars

Plainfield Central's Javari Johnsaon drives to the basket in front of Plainfield South's Peyton Schmid on Friday at Plainfield South High School in Plainfield.
Plainfield Central's Javari Johnsaon drives to the basket in front of Plainfield South's Peyton Schmid on Friday at Plainfield South High School in Plainfield.

PLAINFIELD – Joseph Edozie didn’t know if or when his time would come.

But the Plainfield Central forward prepared in a way that would indicate he was ready if and when it did.

Edozie led all scorers with 19 points Friday night as Plainfield Central collected a 67-53 Southwest Prairie Conference victory over host Plainfield South.

“Last year, he might have played a collection of 20 minutes,” Plainfield Central coach Gregg Bayer said of Edozie. “But if you would have come to our practices every single game last year, you wouldn’t have known if he was a starter or the 15th man because of the way he prepared himself. He made sure he was ready for this opportunity and he’s taken full advantage of it.”

Edozie started fast for the Wildcats (6-0), scoring six points in the opening quarter as the Wildcats jumped out to a 22-16 lead after a quarter. But things got sluggish on both sides, as neither team could find much of an offensive flow in a half marred by nearly 20 fouls being called.

But Edozie and teammates Javari Johnson (10 points) and Mekhi Lunsford (18 points) really put the hammer down in the third quarter, combining to score all of Plainfield Central’s points in a quarter where they would outscore their hosts 22-9 and seize full control of the game.

That quarter was another demonstration of Plainfield Central’s ability to distribute scoring across its roster as it once again finished with four players each scoring between eight and 19 points. It makes things particularly difficult for opponents to find a common thread to stop defensively, and that ability to share is feeding an extremely positive atmosphere in Wildcat land.

“Team chemistry is really high, so there’s nothing to worry about there,” Edozie said. “And the competitiveness is there. It’s just about us bringing it every day.”

Plainfield South tried to crawl back into the contest by draining a quartet of 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, three by the team’s leading scorer, Timothy Williams (17 points), but the Wildcats showed another sign of an experienced, savvy ballclub by draining most of their free-throw opportunities over the course of the contest. As such, the Wildcats were able to keep the Cougars at arm’s length the rest of the way.

Due to the flurry of early fouls, both teams experienced significant foul difficulties with individual players. And while in the short term that was a drawback for both sides, Bayer appreciated the efforts given by players that were given expanded opportunities by the situation.

“We had multiple players step up and make plays,” Bayer said. “It gives you some depth, if other guys have to step up a notch or two notches, then so be it.”

And the hope is those players take on the same mentality that Edozie chose when he wasn’t getting the minutes he would have liked.

“Last year wasn’t what I wanted, but I had to take a step back and realize my role,” Edozie said. “I think that’s really crucial in terms of a team situation. Once you realize your role, a lot of things start falling for you. In everything that I do, I have to put in work, even if I am getting minutes or not minutes, because it will work out in the end.”

Peyton Schmid (12) and Tyler Emery (10) also reached double-digit scoring for Plainfield South, now 2-4 on the season.

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