COLLINSVILLE — The Alton Redbirds came out ultra energized Friday at Vergil Fletcher Gym in Collinsville and it was enough to spark them to victory over the Kahoks.
Alton shot out to a 7-0 lead and befuddled Collinsville early with its pressure defense on the way to a 61-53 Southwestern Conference triumph.
With the win AHS improved to 8-1 overall and 3-1 in the SWC. The Kahoks slipped to 3-6 and 0-4 with the defeat.
“For stretches tonight defensively I thought we were outstanding,” Alton head coach Eric Smith said. “The first couple minutes really set the tone and we sat down and guarded people. We looked really good for stretches on the defensive end.
“We kind of put them on their heels a little bit in the early part of the game with the intensity and the pressure we put on them. I think that was the biggest key and then in the second half we were a little tired.”
Collinsville ended up outscoring the Birds in the second half 36-31, but it wasn't enough to overcome the 30-17 deficit at the break.
“When they were fresh they played with a lot of energy and we had trouble just getting it inside there early,” CHS head coach Darin Lee said. “In the second half maybe they waned a little bit and they weren't as fresh and we were able to enter some offense and get it into our post players and they had trouble stopping (Emondre Rickman) once we got him the ball. We just didn't get him the ball enough.”
Alton's Bryan Hudson, who scored a team-high 17 points Friday, thought the second half was more of story of what the Redbirds didn't do instead of the Kahoks' execution.
“I don't think it's necessarily what they did, it's what we did,” Hudson said. “I think we just need to work on coming back out after halftime and getting that fire started again. I think that's our biggest problem.”
But the third-quarter lull, which has kind of become a theme for Alton this season, was different on Friday according to Smith and he wasn't as concerned as he has been.
“I'm not as worried necessarily about the third-quarter lull or whatever it is because I think we still guarded people,” Smith said. “We sat down and did a nice job with that, so if we don't score that's fine, but the other stretches we've had we didn't score and we didn't guard anybody.”
A pair of free throws and a 3-pointer from Carlos Anderson and a bucket by Hudson put AHS ahead 7-0 at the 4:09 mark of the first quarter. After the 6-foot-8 Rickman, an Indiana State recruit, scored in the paint for the Kahoks, Anderson got a steal and a monster two-handed dunk to put the Redbirds up 9-2 with 3:11 to play in the first quarter.
When the buzzer sounded on the end of the first quarter Alton owned a 16-9 lead, but Collinsville mounted a 6-2 run to open the second quarter and trailed just 18-15 with 5:15 left in the half.
Alton ramped it up again though, stringing together a 10-0 run, highlighted by a 3-pointer from Darrius Edwards and a traditional 3-point play by Hudson, to go up 28-15. The Redbirds went into the locker room up 30-17.
After Maurice Edwards' slam and a Darrius Edwards bucket extended the lead to 34-17 to open the third quarter, the Kahoks began to piece it together.
Smith was impressed with what Collinsville brought to the table on Friday.
“They've got some really good pieces,” Smith said. “They've got some kids that can shoot it, they've got some good bigs and I was fairly impressed with the way they played tonight.”
Rickman exploded for eight of his game-high 18 points in the third quarter, dwindling Alton's lead to 45-36 by the end of the third quarter. Rickman was the only Kahok to reach double figures in the game.
“He deserves every recognition that he gets,” Smith said of Rickman. “And they've got some pretty good kids that they put around him, so that puts a lot of stress and strain on what we're having to do. They've got two bigs and they can move guys in and out and we played Bryan a ton of minutes tonight. I was really pleased with what our kids did.”
Collinsville kept chipping away, but could never get closer than three points in the fourth quarter, the last coming at 51-48 with 3:31 to play.
A big dunk by Anderson off a pass from Darrius Edwards and a steal and a slam by Maurice Edwards sparked Alton over the home stretch.
Altogether the Redbirds had four players in double figures, led by Hudson. Maurice Edwards, 12 points, Anderson, 11, and Isaiah Thurmond, 11, joined him.
The 6-7 senior big for the Birds believes he and his teammates are still putting it all together and when they do, watch out.
“Whenever we do it's going to be exciting,” Hudson said. “I think we've got a chance to go somewhere this year.”
As for Collinsville sitting winless through four SWC games, Lee believes his squad has seen the best four teams the conference has to offer.
“We've played the best four teams, so now we've got to get the next three before we play those teams again,” Lee said.
Both the Kahoks and Redbirds are now idle until their respective holiday tournaments. CHS plays host to the Collinsville/Schnucks Holiday Tournament starting Dec. 26, while AHS heads to the Centralia Tournament on Dec. 29.
ALTON 61, COLLINSVILLE 53
Alton 16 14 15 16 — 61
Collinsville 9 8 19 17 — 53
ALTON (8-1, 3-1) — Darrius Edwards 7, Carlos Anderson 11, Bryan Hudson 17, Isaiah Thurmond 11, Maurice Edwards 12, Lavonte Hobbs 3. 2FG — 15 3FG — 5 FT — 16 PF — 15
COLLINSVILLE (3-6, 0-4) — Anfirnee Wilkinson 9, Emondre Rickman 18, Nic Gonet 4, Harrison Wethers 7, Ronnie Midget 7, Sean Davis 4. 2FG — 17 3FG — 2 FT — 11 PF — 15