GODFREY — The Alton Redbirds cruised to victory Friday night at AHS, walloping Belleville West 69-42.
The win improved the Birds to 13-2 overall and 5-1 in the Southwestern Conference. The Maroons slipped to 5-8 and 2-4 with the defeat.
It was a big week for Alton, which ran past Belleville East 77-30 on Tuesday, combining to beat the two Belleville schools 146-72. The Redbirds have squarely put their loss to Centralia in the finals of the Centralia Holiday Tournament behind them.
“After that loss we've really just been basing everything off of that,” Alton's Bryan Hudson, who led all scorers with 14 points, said. “We don't like losing so we just came to practice and work hard every day.”
Hudson was one of 10 Redbirds to score on Friday and one of four to reach double digits. When multiple players contribute offensively, AHS head coach Eric Smith thinks his squad is at its best.
Lavonte Hobbs joined Hudson in double figures with 11 points off the bench, while Carlos Anderson and Maurice Edwards both chipped in with 10 points.
“Except for one game when Bryan had 21 that's been us every night this year,” Smith said. “That's not a change for us.”
Smith praised Hudson though, expressing that he's found a new level in his finals season with the Birds. Many of Hudson's points came on following missed baskets by teammates and putting back the loose ball for a field goal.
“That's pretty much been Bryan for the whole season,” said Smith. “The effort and level he's played with in every game this year is completely different from what he did last year. I don't say that to mean he wasn't good last year. He was pretty good last year, but he's just playing with a completely different energy level.”
Hudson said knowing its his last hurrah with the Redbirds has been the biggest eye opener this season.
“I feel like as a senior I've got more of a role to lead the team, so I just try to lead by example,” Hudson said.
AHS started out a little sluggish against the Maroons, trailing 12-10 with 25 seconds remaining in the opening quarter before Hobbs came off the bench and nailed his first of three treys on the night. Alton led 13-12 after one frame.
West's Demond White hit the first shot of the second quarter to put the Maroons back in front 14-13, but that proved to be their last lead in the game.
“The first quarter I thought we had the tempo going exactly the way we needed it,” West head coach Joe Muniz said. “They changed up their defense a little bit. I credit them, but we made a lot of unforced errors.”
Hudson put the Redbirds on top for good at the 7:11 mark of the second quarter, completing a traditional 3-point play following a thunderous two-handed slam. Then the Birds turned up the tempo and strung together a 21-7 run to close out the half and carry a 34-21 lead into the break.
But as Alton changed the speed of the game, West continued to turn the ball over with unforced errors.
“It was like the old tennis match where you're hitting the ball out of bounds and things of that nature,” Muniz said. “We didn't catch it, we threw it over our people's heads. You credit them because they do speed you up, but I've seen them play a lot and I'd rather them really get after us and speed us up, but we really just kind of gave it to them.”
The second half got really out of hand for the Maroons. After three quarters the Redbirds owned a commanding 54-31 lead and went to their bench for the final eight minutes.
“We started out pretty sluggish, but I think the nice part is after a little talking at halftime the kids really came out and responded with what our approach has been for most of the season,” Smith said. “We were able to get back to that.”
For the second straight game senior Isaiah Thurmond was out of the lineup. Thurmond was banged up in practice with an undisclosed injury.
Alton is back in action with a tough week in the SWC starting at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at East St. Louis. The Redbirds then welcome Edwardsville at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
ALTON 69, BELLEVILLE WEST 42
Alton 13 21 20 15 — 69
West 12 9 10 11 — 42
Alton (13-2, 5-1) — Darrius Edwards 6, Carlos Anderson 10, Bryan Hudson 14, Maurice Edwards 10, Lavonte Hobbs 11, Demonte Wigfall 2, Josh Lovings 4, Dalon Henley 4, Kevin Caldwell 5, Jordan Golley 2. 2PT — 21 3PT — 5 FT — 11 PF — 19
West (5-8, 2-4) — Demond White 8, Austin Seibert 12, Tyler Dancy 7, Eugene Jones 13, Jordan Parks 2. 2PT — 12 3PT — 4 FT — 6 PF — 13