By Todd Wills
Corsicana Daily Sun
If you’ve been monitoring the box scores for area boys basketball this season, you might have run across some eye-popping numbers.
As in big scoring games from individual players around the Golden Circle.
Mildred’s Nic Shimonek had 41 points against Rice last week. Rice’s Dalton Pike lit up Bynum and Buffalo for 36- and 35-point games, respectively, last month.
Frost’s Danial Steels poured in 31 against Bynum, and Blooming Grove’s Juanya Pyburn had a 30-point outing in the Kiwanis Classic.
In all, there have been nine different area players score at least 25 points in a game this season. Shimonek, Pike, Pyburn and Corsicana’s Mike Lewis have done it twice each. All nine Golden Circle teams have had at least one 25-point game this season — and it’s only the middle of January.
There have been 14 occasions where a player has gone off for more than 25 points. There were several 20- to 24-point games that didn’t make the cut.
They’re doing it with 3-point barrages — Shimonek made six of them against Rice — and they’re driving to the basket and getting to the free throw line. And don’t forget the garbage buckets on offensive rebounds.
“There are some guys that are shooting the ball well,” said Hubbard coach Marcus Simmons, who watched Shimonek torch the Jaguars for 35 points on New Year’s Eve. “There are guys in the area who shoot it well. I’m not surprised that people are putting up those kinds of numbers.”
Pyburn, a 6-2 freshman, made the all-tournament team at the Kiwanis Classic with his 30-point outing. Blooming Grove didn’t win the tournament, but Pyburn drew rave reviews averaging 19.3 points per game.
Blooming Grove has been one of the area’s most improved teams — the Lions held Shimonek to 14 points in a 55-50 overtime win last week. Pyburn, a freshman, has been a big reason why.
“He has put a lot of time into working on his game,” Lions coach Ben Kinnison said. “I'd say it would be hard to find another freshman at a small school in this area that outworks him. He gets up shots year round and it has paid off for him in his young career.”
Kennison said you can’t forget Pyburn’s teammates who get him the ball and play unselfish basketball. It’s the reason why the Lions are 15-6 this season.
“He gets a lot of good looks most nights, due to the fact that people familiar with our team generally focus on stopping my two returning leaders, Daniel Pelzel and Jacob Conger,” Kennison said. “Both of those guys are happy to sacrifice shots for us to be more balanced and have greater team success.”
Pike, a 6-5 senior forward, has been putting up big numbers for a few years. He scored 34 against Blooming Grove in last year’s Kiwanis Classic.
“When he gets going, you don’t want any part of him,” said Frost coach Eric Blenden, whose team plays excellent defense and held Pike to six points in a game this season.
Steels, a 6-2 senior forward, is perhaps the smoothest and most patient scorer in the area. He scores the majority of his points from inside the 3-point arc on post moves and offensive rebounds. He’s shooting 68 percent from the field.
“He doesn’t try to force anything,” Blenden said. “A lot of his points come off offensive rebounds because people are double- and triple-teaming him when he has the ball.”
Lewis, the Tigers’ 6-3 junior shaprshooter, has made a half dozen 3s in games against Forney and Whitehouse. He and Shimonek probably have the best range in the area.
In fact, Lewis gets the award for the most acrobatic 3-point shot of the year, a fall-away trey with the hands of two Jacksonville defenders in his face in Tuesday’s 50-27 loss.
“Mike can do everything,” Mildred coach Daniel Johnston said. “He can drive, hit can hit the pull-up jumper, and If you don’t get in his face he will hit the three. Mike has done a great job playing a lot of time at the point guard position due to injuries and lack of depth.”
Shimonek, a 6-4 senior guard, had nine 3s in a game as a sophomore and he made eight in a game twice last year.
“It’s like he has no conscious,” Simmons said. “When he crosses halfcourt, that’s his range. And he has so much confidence. I love a kid who has that much confidence he can shoot it.”
The offensive outburst has made for an entertaining first two months of the season.
There are a combination of reasons for the high-scoring games fans are seeing in box scores, Kennison said.
“The biggest contributor would have to be the dedication of coaches and kids across the state to get into the gym year round,” Kennison said. “Anywhere there is a good basketball program, you know that those kids have access to a gym, and not just from November to February.
“Couple that with the fact that high school teams play at such a fast pace now, and you are going to have a generation of kids who shoot the ball well, taking more shots in a game. It makes most games a fun event to coach, play in, or just go watch.”
There have already been several individual high scoring games this season in Golden Circle boys basketball action. Here’s the rundown of the players who have scored more than 25 points in a game this season:
Player School Point Total Date/Oppenent
Nic Shimonek Mildred 41 Jan. 8 vs. Rice
Dalton Pike Rice 36 Dec. 1 vs. Bynum
Dalton Pike Rice 35 Dec. 18 vs. Buffalo
Nic Shimonek Mildred 35 Dec. 31 vs. Hubbard
Danial Steels Frost 31 Jan. 4 vs. Bynum
Juanya Pyburn Bl. Grove 30 Dec. 30 vs. Rice
Tobyus Thomas Kerens 30 Nov. 27 vs. Palestine
D’Warren Simmons Hubbard 28 Jan. 15 vs. Kerens
Mike Lewis Corsicana 27 Nov. 27 vs. Forney
Dalton Pike Rice 27 Dec. 21 vs. Leon
Caleb Grant Dawson 25 Dec. 14 vs. Chilton
Mike Lewis Corsicana 25 Nov. 30 vs. Chapel Hill
Juanya Pyburn Bl. Grove 25 Dec. 21 vs. Rice
Brysen Rhodes Wortham 25 vs. Mount Calm