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Dec 18: Stoughton vs La Crosse Central

Central’s Noah Parcher drives against Stoughton’s Nathan Hutcherson during Tuesday’s game at Central High School. Parcher's offensive skills are often overlooked because of his pass-first mentality.

The smiles and high-fives exchanged after the Central High School boys basketball team’s home opener on Tuesday were the result of multiple things.

First, they celebrated a dominant 87-35 win over Stoughton that allowed the Red Raiders to show the ability to bounce back and play well after a disappointing loss at Division 1 Brookfield Central on Saturday.

Second, they were hard to contain because the team was 11 hours away from leaving the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport for a few days — and two games later this week — in Fort Myers, Fla.

“We needed this because all of our games have been on the road and a lot of them have been two or three hours away,” said Central junior Jordan Davis, who had 10 points, seven steals and three assists in front of a crowd estimated at 900 people. “We needed a home game and to get that home environment before going to Florida.”

The Red Raiders (5-1) were scheduled to meet at 1:30 a.m. at Central, where they would leave on a bus for the airport. Central’s flight was scheduled to leave around 6 a.m., and Fergot said the team would have a practice Wednesday afternoon.

Central is playing in the Signature Series of the City of Palms Classic on Thursday and Saturday. The Red Raiders open against a team from Brunswick, Ga. (7-1) on Thursday afternoon before playing either Glens Falls (N.Y.) or Petal (Miss.) on Saturday.

They get to play those games with the momentum they built against the Vikings on Tuesday. Stoughton (6-2) had won five straight games before Central dismantled it and pushed its lead into the 40s to start a running clock in the second half.

Neither Johnny Davis nor Noah Parcher started for Central — coach Todd Fergot said it was simply a lineup change for the night — but they combined for 41 points and six steals while helping the Red Raiders get the most out of their fast break.

It took almost 4 minutes for Stoughton to score its first points, and it ended up with more turnovers (24) than baskets (15). A 13-0 run in the middle of the first half was capped by a Johnny Davis drive to the basket and gave the Red Raiders a 36-10 lead in a game they led 52-18 at the half.

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“They executed the defensive plan the way that were supposed to,” Fergot said of his players. “They were aggressive at the right times and taking chances, but taking those chances within our system.”

Johnny Davis threw down three dunks, two of them coming off his own steals and the other coming off one by his brother Jordan.

David Hayden added 13 points for Central by making all six of his shots. Hayden hit his only attempt from the 3-point line in the second half after a steal and assist by Jordan Davis and converted a steal into a basket himself in the first half.

Nine players scored for Central, which shot 67.3 percent (33-for-49) from the floor and made 10 of 18 attempts (55.6 percent) from the 3-point line.

The focus now changes to some elite competition mixed with some team bonding in Florida. Fergot said a little time at the beach and just to hang out with each other as a group is as important as basketball this week.

“This is the kind of trip that some of us won’t have again,” Fergot said. “It’s a chance to see the ocean and do some things we can’t do here, so we want to take advantage of that opportunity, too.”

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Todd Sommerfeldt can be reached at todd.sommerfeldt@lee.net of via Twitter at @SommerfeldtLAX

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Assistant Sports Editor

Todd Sommerfeldt has covered sports for the La Crosse Tribune since 2003 after doing the same previously in the Fox Cities and Rock County.