GODFREY — Call it a tale of two halves and the Alton Redbirds told the tale once Friday's second half began.
They used scalding shooting to blister the Collinsville Kahoks, 65-41, in a Southwestern Conference boys’ basketball game and remain undefeated in the league. Alton, which has won four in succession, improved to 6-1 overall and 4-0 in the SWC. Collinsville dropped to 3-4 and 1-3.
“The game was way too close at half,” Redbirds’ senior Marcus Latham said, referring to the team’s 32-25 advantage. “We should have played the first half like we did in the second half.”
Latham, a 22-point producer, added: “We were more patient in the second half and that made a difference. We hit our shots and made some easy layups.”
The Redbirds made about every shot they took in the second half. They connected on 14 of 20 field-goal attempts, including 13 of 17 from the regulars. In the first half, Alton made just 13 of 33 shots. Overall, that’s 27 of 53 from the field.
“We played harder the second half,” Redbirds’ coach Eric Smith said. “It’s just that simple and you have to credit the kids for that. We talked about it at halftime and they came out and played well in the second half.”
Collinsville coach Darin Lee pointed out, “I think they (Redbirds) had good shot selection and they are a good team. Right now, we aren’t a very good team defensively.”
Most assuredly, it was the Redbirds’ sizzling second-half shooting that punched holes in the Kahoks’ defense. Latham made 7 of 8 shots after the break and he had plenty of assistance. Maurice Edwards (13 points), Kevin Caldwell Jr. (9 points) and Tre Smith (7 points) added to the cause. Edwards provided a trey and dunk, plus his 11 first-half points kept the Birds afloat.
“I don’t know what we were running in the first half,” Smith quipped. “It’s not the way we practice our offense. But we came out with more energy and effort in the second half and played better on defense.
“We took care of business.”
Latham knows why.
“Coach told us at halftime that we needed to share the ball more. We did that in the second half and we need to keep doing that," he said.
Sam Webb of Collinsville converted a 3-point play at the start of the second half to cut Alton’s lead to 32-28. Then the Redbirds countered with an 8-0 run and opened a 40-28 advantage midway through the third quarter. They led by as much as 27 points — 62-35 — in the fourth quarter.
Lee said, “We have to work on our defense. I thought we were pretty lackadaisical at times.”
The Kahoks made 15 of 39 shots, but committed 19 turnovers, including 7 in the second quarter and 8 in the third quarter. Zach Flora led them with 10 points, though 9 came in the first half.
Top guns Ronnie Midgett (18.8 ppg) and Tommy Maden (15.7 points) were limited to 8 and 7 points, respectively. Midgett took only eight shots.
“One of our goals was to stop Midgett,” Latham said.
And the Kahoks couldn’t contain the 6-1 Latham. He surpassed 20 points for the fourth time this season.
“When he plays the right way, he is an effective player,” Smith said. “He can score, handle the basketball and share it.”
It’ll be shootout time for the Redbirds on Saturday afternoon. They will tangle with 7-1 Soldan of St. Louis in a 1 p.m. game at CBC High in St. Louis. It’s the opener of the Midwest Showdown Shootout, sponsored by St. Louisan Terrell Ramey. Six games are scheduled, featuring teams from Illinois, Missouri and Tennessee.
ALTON 65, COLLINSVILLE 41
Collinsville 14 11 10 6 — 41
Alton 16 16 21 12 — 65
Collinsville (3-4, 1-3) – Tommy Maden 7, Ronnie Midgett 8, Sam Webb 8, Zach Flora 10, Jake Hall 6, Amron Cooper-Hodges 2. 2FG-13 3FG-2 FT-9 PF-11
Alton (6-1, 4-0) – Kevin Caldwell Jr. 9, Maurice Edwards 13, Marcus Latham 22, Tre Smith 7, Jordan Golley 3, Ty’ohn Trimble 1, Kenneth Burnett 3, Dereaun Clay 4, Izeal Terrell 3. 2FG-21 3FG-6 FT-5 PF-17