1 of 2
Alton's Darrius Edwards directs the offense Wednesday against Jacksonville in the Alton Tip-Off Classic.
2 of 2
Bryan Hudson of the Redbirds defends a Jacksonville player on Wednesday at AHS.
GODFREY — On a night when Alton honored its 2014 Hall of Fame class, the Redbirds paid tribute to them the best way they know how — with a win.
Alton bested Jacksonville 52-37 on Wednesday to improve to 2-0 in the Tip-Off Classic.
Nine Redbirds scored to compile a total team effort against the Crimsons. Bryan Hudson and Darrius Edwards each netted 10 points to lead the Birds. Jacksonville got 16 points from Brady Hays and 13 from James White in the loss.
Alton head coach Eric Smith admitted the unselfishness of the Redbirds will be key to their success this season and seeing guys share minutes the way they have in the first two games will be a trend for them.
“Obviously everybody would like to play 32 minutes, but with the amount of athletes we have it's not going to be like that,” Smith said. “I think you saw it tonight with Jacksonville, halftime rolls around and their kids are walking out with cups of water and towels over their heads. They didn't sub and they were tired. Our kids are in the locker room at halftime jumping around.
“It's going to be hard because it's going to ask a lot of kids to do something that's going to be a little unnatural for them. We always talk about being unselfish by making the extra pass, but our kids are going to have to be unselfish by understanding that they're going to have to play their butts off for three or four minutes and then they're coming out and somebody else is going to have to do their job. If we can buy into that I think it will be a huge advantage for us.”
Jacksonville went toe to toe with the Redbirds early on. The Crimsons led 8-2 at the 4:21 mark of the first quarter after Hays buried a couple 3-pointers. Alton answered back with an 8-0 run highlighted by a dunk by Bryan Hudson and at the end of the opening frame it was knotted at 12-12.
Edwards said being in the stalemate with Jacksonville opened the eyes of he and his teammates.
“It told us we weren't playing hard enough,” Edwards said. “It said we weren't doing what we were capable of doing.”
The Redbirds opened it up a little in the second quarter. Junior Marcus Latham knocked down a trey and sophomore Maurice Edwards found senior Carlos Anderson on an alleyoop for a monster jam as Alton outscored the Crimsons 15-6 in the second stanza to carry a 27-18 lead into the break.
Jacksonville head coach Sean Taylor pointed to the speed and relentless pressure defense of the Redbirds as being very hard for the Crimsons to contend with in the game.
“They are fast and big and good,” Taylor said. “They've got a chance to be really, really good this year. We gave our kids the football analogy, we wanted to run the ball and control the clock and when we shot it a little too quick and turned it over obviously we didn't have any answers for that.”
Alton came out of the locker room and forced Jacksonville into seven turnovers in the third quarter, outscoring the Crimsons 15-10 to grab a comfy 42-28 lead entering the final frame and rolled to the victory.
Taylor said the turnovers were definitely disheartening. Jacksonville, now 1-2, committed 19 turnovers while the Birds only coughed it up nine times.
“I thought we did a lot of what we wanted to do, we just turned it over and gave them too many easy baskets,” Taylor said. “We're young, a new system for them. I just think Alton's a great team and does a great job, but we turned it over too many times.”
Darrius Edwards admitted that the Redbirds thought they could force the Crimsons into some turnovers with pressure from the guard position and that should be a strong point for them this season.
“We have some guards in Nigel (Harris), Maurice, myself, Isaiah (Thurmond) that play a pretty nice up court defense and if we pressure we're going to most likely get turnovers,” Edwards said.
Alton will be back in action at 7:30 p.m. Friday against 0-3 Vashon, which lost to 2-0 Chatham Glenwood, 41-37, on Wednesday.
ALTON TIP-OFF CLASSIC
ALTON 52, JACKSONVILLE 37
Jacksonville 12 6 10 9 — 37
Alton 12 15 15 10 — 52
Alton (2-0) — Carlos Anderson 6, Bryan Hudson 10, Isaiah Thurmond 2, Maurice Edwards 8, Darrius Edwards 10, Nigel Harris 4, Marcus Latham 8, Demonte' Wigfall 2, Lavonte Hobbs 2. 2FG — 20 3FG — 2 FT — 6
Jacksonville (1-2) — James White 13, Brady Hays 16, Brandon McCombs 4, Jonny Peak 3, Joe Brannon 1. 2FG — 6 3FG — 6 FT — 7