High school basketball: La Crosse Central throttles Hudson, with Badgers' coach Greg Gard watching

Central's Johnny Davis shoots during the first half of Thursday's game against Hudson. Davis went 11 of 20 from the field to score a game-high 27 points.

Rory O'Driscoll, La Crosse Tribune

With the likes of University of Wisconsin basketball coach Greg Gard, Badgers assistant coach Joe Krabbenhoft and former Central High School standout Kobe King watching from the baseline, Johnny Davis wanted to make sure that the drive to La Crosse was worth it for the Madison trio.

Davis, a 6-foot-5 sophomore for the Red Raiders, didn’t disappoint, scoring a game-high 27 points as the Central boys basketball team cruised past Hudson 81-49 in front of approximately 1,000 fans at the Mark Sutton Memorial Gymnasium on Thursday night.

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High school basketball: La Crosse Central throttles Hudson, with Badgers' coach Greg Gard watching

Wisconsin coach Greg Gard talks with Central High School alumni and current Badger Kobe King as they watch Central take on Hudson on Thursday.

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Sophomore Terrance Thompson added 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Red Raiders, and the Central defense held Hudson (2-6) to 31 percent shooting.

The Red Raiders (7-1) led 53-17 at halftime and stretched that lead to 66-19 after a quick start to the second half, with Davis scoring 11 of Central’s first 14 points after the break.

“To come out and start the game, that’s usually how we play,” said Davis, who shot 11 of 20 from the field. “We don’t really (run) that (many plays on) offense, we just get the ball and go.”

As for playing in front of the gentlemen wearing a red ‘W’ on their jackets, Davis said that having college coaches in attendance isn’t something that worries him.

“I knew that before the game that they were going to come and watch, and I just decided to put on a show,” said Davis, who added five rebounds, two assists and five steals. “It doesn’t make me nervous.”

Davis said that playing in the high-profile AAU Under Armour Association Finals in Atlanta over the summer got him comfortable with the idea of important sets of eyes watching him play basketball.

“Down in Atlanta, we played in the UAA Finals, and there were a ton of coaches sitting courtside for the game,” Davis said. “It doesn’t make me nervous.”

Red Raiders coach Todd Fergot, who’s well versed in the recruiting process after helping guide the likes of King and Bailey Kale through it, said that he’s hoping that it’s the same Johnny Davis that comes out to play no matter who is in the stands.

“There should be nothing that changes,” said Fergot. “You should be giving your best effort every single day, so it shouldn’t matter who is there watching. It doesn’t matter who we’re playing, what court it is on, this is the way we should be playing. Nothing should change for them if they’re doing things the right way.”

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High school basketball: La Crosse Central throttles Hudson, with Badgers' coach Greg Gard watching

Central's Terrance Thompson shoots against Hudson's Paul Sparstad during the first half of Thursday's game at Central High School. Thompson, a sophomore, had 14 points and 10 rebounds.

To be given the kind of attention that Davis is getting is a byproduct of the work that he’s put in, Fergot said.

“He’s just got to go out every night and earn it,” Fergot said of the attention. “Our team has to earn it. I think it’s a testament to the hard work that he’s put in and that our team has put in overall.”

Central doesn’t have any games until the new year, which gives the Red Raiders an opportunity to focus in on the conference season, with MVC tilts against Aquinas and Logan awaiting in early January.

“I think we’ve made some strides and made some progress, but I think there’s a lot we need to work on to get better,” Fergot said of the Red Raiders’ first eight games. “We’re still a young team and still kind of learning as we go. A lot of real positives, but some things that we have to improve. Our guys know what those things are, so we have to get to work over break and get better.”