BELLEVILLE — After learning a lesson, Southwestern Illinois College freshman Brendan Wheeler gave one Wednesday against the Missouri Baptist University junior-varsity.
Making his Blue Storm debut, Wheeler scored a game-high 19 points while Brandon Book and Tony Bradley chipped in with 11 each as SWIC rolled to an 87-53 nonconference win.
A graduate of Edwardsville High School, Wheeler sat out SWIC's season-opening win over Morraine Valley College on Saturday for a violation of team rules.
On Wednesday, the 6-foot-3 Wheeler made up for lost time as he nailed three 3-point shots and scored 12 of his 19 points in the first half when the Blue Storm took a 45-25 lead.
"He shot the ball very well tonight and he stayed within our offense. When he stays within the offense, he's a very good player,'' Blue Storm coach Jay Harrington said. "We're not supposed to be at 100 percent right now, but as players you've got to want to have 100- percent intensity and 100-percent intelligence all through the year.
"Tonight we did not have either one of those things."
Missouri Baptist, although undersized and perhaps a bit overwhelmed by the Blue Storm's talent, trailed just 15-13 with eight minutes gone as sophomore guard Curtis Payton scored seven early points.
With SWIC leading 17-13 following a pair of free throws by freshman Marvin Jones, Wheeler scored on a conventional 3-point play then his first 3-point shot of the night to put SWIC up 23-13.
Bradley then completed the 10-0 SWIC surge with a short jumper as the lead grew to 25-13.
Still, Harrington wasn't pleased with what he was seeing from his young squad.
"A lot of kids don't think they're getting enough playing time which is a form of selfishness.' It's more about them than it is about the team,'' Harrington said. "With talent, you have that problem at times. With immature kids.''
With Bradley scoring nine points and Wheeler knocking down a pair of 3-point shots in the final stages of the first half, the Blue Storm lead continued to grow as it took a 45-25 halftime advantage.
Inconsistency and Missouri Baptist guard John Cannon hurt SWIC early in the second half. Cannon tallied all 10 of his points in a four minute span as Missouri Baptist cut the SWIC lead to 13 points on three occasions in the opening five minutes.
But baskets by Luke Norman and Dylan Chatman increased the lead back to 17 points at 54-37 with just under 12 minutes left in the game.
Missouri Baptist would get no closer than 15 points the rest of the way as the deeper, more talented Blue Storm kept adding to its lead.
All together, 14 SWIC Blue Storm players broke into the scoring column.
But for Harrington the game was just not about winning.
"This wasn't about beating the heck out of a junior-varsity team. This is about getting us to play consistently the way we want to play, trying to play intense all the time and trying to make sure that our guys understand what we want out of them,'' Harrington said.
"What we want is hard play out of them all the time with intelligence and we didn't get that tonight.'"