There was little the Onalaska High School boys basketball team could do to stop Central’s Johnny Davis from taking over his team’s biggest game to this point of the season on Friday.
The fourth-ranked Hilltoppers did fine for a half, but when Davis wanted control in the second half he took it, and that played the biggest of roles in the second-ranked Red Raiders’ 74-56 MVC victory in front of a capacity crowd of 1,400 people at Mark Sutton Memorial Gymnasium.
“Johnny came alive (in the second half),” Central junior Jordan Davis said. “He had some foul trouble in the first half, but he took it to them in the second.”
Johnny Davis had 22 of his game-high 29 points after halftime as Central (10-1, 4-0) took over first place in the MVC. Onalaska (10-2, 4-1) was within one point after the first half but outscored by 17 the rest of the way.
“He kept getting offensive rebound after offensive rebound,” Onalaska coach Craig Kowal said of Davis, who had five offensive rebounds among his total of 11. “That, (Tyrell) Stuttley getting this fouls, and Gavin (McGrath) getting hurt totally changed the game.”
Stuttley was Onalaska’s best offensive weapon of the night, and he had 15 points in the first half. But two quick fouls whistled with nearly 13 minutes left sent him to the bench with four, and he had to play more tentatively when he returned.
The 6-foot-9 McGrath injured his ankle after making a basket minutes after Stuttley’s fourth foul and had to miss a big chunk of the final minutes.
The Red Raiders led 39-38 when Stuttley was whistled for his fourth foul with 12:46 remaining and 43-42 after McGrath’s hoop with a little more than 11 minutes to go.
What followed was a 20-3 run — Johnny Davis had 11 of the points — that put Central in complete control they rest of the way.
Stuttley returned to score nine more points and finish with a team-high 26, but the Hilltoppers had no real luck cutting into the deficit. McGrath also returned but didn’t score again.
“He came out and played great at the beginning of the game and shot the ball better than we thought he would,” Johnny Davis said of Stuttley, who made two 3-pointers in the first half and two more in the second. “Getting him out of the game was a big factor.
“Our plan was to sag off of him because he hadn’t shot it well (from the outside) against us, but he did tonight.”
The teams exchanged the lead five times and were tied on three occasions during the first half. Onalaska’s led by five points once and and 20-16 after two McGrath free throws with 8:58 left in the half.
Stuttley’s shot over Terrance Thompson gave the Hilltoppers a 22-21 lead, but that was their final advantage in the game.
Onalaska’s problem in the second half was Johnny Davis, and any mistake it made was magnified when the Red Raiders went 12-for-12 from the free-throw line in the second half and 19-for-19 in the game.
“Those are shots you have to be able to knock down,” Central coach Todd Fergot said of the free throws. “We’ve shot well there lately, and that’s huge for our team.”
Johnny Davis shot and made 11 free throws and turned three offensive rebounds in the second half into seven points.
Jordan Davis made all three of his 3-pointers in the first half and wound up with 17 points.
His perimeter shooting kept Central running with Onalaska when Johnny Davis found himself in foul trouble.
“He’s been shooting very well all season,” Fergot said. “He came out shooting well again tonight.”