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Davenport Central's Keshawn Pegues drives against Bettendorf's Phil Gist during last year's substate game. Pegues is off to a torrid start for the Blue Devils this winter at 19.7 points and 11 rebounds per game. 

It wasn't until early January when the Davenport Central boys basketball team snagged its third win of the season last year.

The first full week of December isn't finished and coach Craig Wurdinger's squad already has three victories in its pocket this season.

Behind the leadership of captains Keshawn Pegues and Josh English, along with the emergence of sophomores Emarion Ellis and John Miller, Central has quickly put last year's 5-17 season in the rearview mirror. 

"The leadership is really good, and the chemistry is really good right now," Wurdinger said. "Our older guys put a lot of hard work in this summer, and the younger guys have come along for the ride."

Central won at Dubuque Hempstead in the season opener. It knocked off state-ranked Dubuque Senior last Friday and followed with a 25-point win over city rival Davenport West on Tuesday. 

The Blue Devils have four players averaging double figures, are shooting almost 10 percentage points better from the 3-point line than a year ago and still wreak havoc with their defensive pressure (almost 10 steals a game).

The 66-59 win over Senior, in particular, opened eyes. Senior, an 18-win team last year, is led by Northern Iowa recruit Noah Carter.

"That's a great signature win for the team," Wurdinger said. "It was big for the younger guys to gain that confidence that they can compete and beat better teams in the state. 

"It also motivates us and shows we're in that top tier."

Pegues has fueled the early surge. The 6-foot-3 senior is registering 19.7 points and 11 rebounds per contest. Evident by his 14 offensive rebounds, Pegues possesses great instincts for the ball, Wurdinger said. 

"I've been doing this for 30 years, and he's worked as hard as anybody in the offseason and really wants this," Wurdinger said.

"He's making better decisions on the court. The talent was there last year, but he didn't have the experience. Now, he's gained some experience and understands the game better and how it's played."

Ellis and Miller, averaging 16.0 and 10.7 points per game, respectively, were part of a sophomore team that won the Mississippi Athletic Conference last season. Neither has been fazed by the move to the varsity level.

"They're very competitive, hungry and want it," Wurdinger said. "They've stepped in and done a good job so far."

Central plays host to city-rival Davenport North on Friday. It has games next week against winless Clinton and Muscatine along with Alleman in the Genesis Shootout. 

There is an opportunity for the Blue Devils to be 7-0 heading into the last week of games before winter break. 

"It has been a fun group to be around so far," Wurdinger said. "They've really played hard and played for each other."

Added weapon: Sean Peeters did not make a 3-point shot last season for Davenport Assumption. In fact, the southpaw attempted only three among his 117 shots.

He buried one in the season opener against Dubuque Wahlert. Then during the Knights' overtime loss to Pleasant Valley on Tuesday, Peeters sank two big 3s in the closing stages of regulation.

"Sean has a good shot," coach Matt Fitzpatrick said. "He's worked hard on his shot, and we've been harping on him, if you're open, you need to knock down that shot.

"He needs to start shooting them a little bit more. If he can do that, he'll be a really tough guy to defend."

30-point club: Less than two weeks into the season, the Iowa Quad-Cities area already has had five players erupt for at least 31 points in a game.

Bettendorf's D.J. Carton and Wapello's Keaton Mitchell each have a 36-point game along with Camanche's Cameron Soenksen (32), Northeast's Braeden Hoyer (32) and Central DeWitt's Alex McAleer (31). 

Carton was the only one of that group to eclipse 30 in a game last season.

Mitchell, a Truman State recruit, is averaging 28.3 points and 14 rebounds for the Indians (2-1). 

First poll: The first Associated Press high school boys basketball rankings are scheduled to be released Monday afternoon. There will be two polls before the winter break. 

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Sports Editor

Prep sports editor, with emphasis on covering the Mississippi Athletic Conference and Iowa area high schools. I've been in sports journalism for 17 years, the last five at the Quad-City Times.