Mekhi Lunford leads Plainfield Central past rival Plainfield North in SPC crossover
Last updated 1/16/2020 at 2:05pm
After the Plainfield North girls had defeated Plainfield Central in the opening game of the Southwest Prairie Conference crossover, girls-boys double-header at North on Tuesday, Central needed a win to split.
Wildcat 6-foot-3 senior Mekhi Lunford made sure Plainfield Central got the split.
Dropping 31 points on the then-SPC West co-leading Tigers (8-6, 6-3 West), Lunford scored from everywhere on the court. He buried seven three-point bombs.
Hauling down eight rebounds, four on the offensive glass, the senior Wildcat scored inside as well, leading the Wildcats (11-6, 5-3 East) to the 76-63 victory.
"You can find Mekhi in the gym every day for hours" Plainfield Central coach Gregg Bayer said. "Working on his inside and outside shots. This is the sole reason that he is scoring so well for us as of late. Nobody works harder than Mekhi. He is a great kid and very coachable."
After North took an 18-14 lead after one quarter, behind seven points from 6-foot-3 senior Cooper Bridges, Lunford put on a show.
After burying his first of seven three-pointers in the first quarter, Lunford hit four more in the second quarter and score 14 second-quarter points. The Wildcats' to a 34-28 lead at the half.
After scoring seven first-half points, Wildcat 6-foot-2 senior Brandon Shoemaker(10 points) and Tavari Johnson scored the first six points of the third quarter for a 40-28 Wildcat lead.
Lunford's sixth three-point bomb extended the 'Cat lead to 51-38. His seventh and final three closed out the third quarter scoring with a 56-41 Plainfield Central lead.
"It was a great game tonight and I am so happy we came out of here with the W." Lunford said." I felt really good out there tonight. I just got in a zone and was very confident that I would make my shots. We prepared well for North, who came out with a lot of energy but we prevailed. It was great to have Shoe back in our lineup."
For Shoemaker, who after leading the Wildcats to the 2019 WJOL Thanksgiving Tournament championship and taking home the WJOL Tourney MVP, was sidelined for nine games with an illness.
Having recently returned to the lineup, the Wildcat star is ecstatic about being back with his friends.
"Words cannot express how grateful and happy I am to return to our lineup," Shoemaker said. "Wow, what a night for Mekhi leading us to the win."
The Johnson Brothers, seniors Javari and Tavari helped keep Central competitive during Shoemaker's absence.
Javari Johnson, who did not score in the first half, scored all 12 of his points in the second half, including 10 in the fourth quarter.
Tavari scored 10 points and hauled down six rebounds for the 'Cats.
"Mekhi has been really working hard on his shot and had a great game tonight," Javari Johnson aid. "Its our system right now with Shoe back in the lineup that makes us very tough to beat."
"Plainfield North is very physical and it came to who had the most heart," Tavari Johnson said. "We took it to them and picked up the win. We are all back together again."
For the hard-nosed Plainfield North, who were led by their 6-foot-8 senior Colin O'Rourke and Bridges, the loss was hard to take.
O'Rourke and Bridges, both had double-doubles. O'Rouke, scored 11 points and hauled down 13 rebounds, while Bridges scored 15 points and grabbed 10 boards for the Tigers. Blake Ellinghaus buried three 3's for 11 points for North
"It's great to have Brandon back," Bayer added. "The silver-lining to Brandon's absence was that we developed depth with him gone. Even with him out of the lineup, we were very competitive in the games we lost. It's great to have him back."