COLLINSVILLE — The Alton Redbirds started early and never let up Friday in Collinsville, soaring past the Southwestern Conference rival Kahoks 71-51.
AHS buried 10 treys in the game, played stout defense and rebounded well, improving to 12-8 overall and 8-3 in the SWC with the win. Collinsville dipped to 9-15 and 1-9 on the league slate with the loss.
Alton raced out to a 12-0 lead to start the game. Marcus Latham knocked down 8 of his game-high 33 points, including a pair of 3-pointers, in the opening spurt.
“Things are a lot different when you come out and knock down shots,” AHS head coach Eric Smith said. “We've had nights where we've played similar to this but didn't make shots and it was a dogfight and a battle and things were a little different. This was good, the kids played hard. The energy level, the effort, it was all there and I thought for the most part they were fairly patient with some things. All-in-all it was a good night for us.”
It was an especially good night for Latham. He hit seven 3-pointers on the night and shot 6 of 6 from the charity stripe in the fourth quarter to spur his offensive night.
“Yesterday I shot a lot at practice and a couple of them fell and a couple of them didn't, but I think I just got a feel for the rim (tonight),” Latham said. “I shot a lot of warmups and they were falling and I just carried it over to the game.
“Maurice (Edwards) is real good at getting in gaps and he was real good at finding me tonight and that's what I got most of my 3s off of, driving kicks from Maurice. They weren't closing out, so my shots were falling.”
Smith said the 33 points wasn't what made Latham's night a success though. It were the other facets of the game where he flourished that made him the total package.
“Points don't have anything with how well he played,” Smith said. “He did other things in this game. He rebounded very well at the beginning of the game. I'll go back and look at the film, but first impression, this was probably one of the better defensive games he's played in a while and that's why he had a good game. Anybody can score, but we need all three phases from him and he did that tonight.”
Alton kept rolling after the opening scoring spree, too. Latham knocked down a third trey and Ty'ohn Trimble sank a pair of 3s to boot and when the buzzer sounded on the first quarter the Birds were ahead 25-12.
Collinsville head coach Darin Lee said with the Redbirds hitting shots the way they did it made it tough.
“We just didn't do things well enough overall to get the job done,” Lee said. “They're a hard team to cover and (Latham) made some shots. We probably should have found him a little earlier.”
The Kahoks chipped away in the second quarter. They cut it to a nine-point deficit at 31-22 when Zach Flora hit a shot with 2:51 to go in the half. Collinsville dwindled it to 36-28 entering the break.
Latham said it was a lack of effort on the boards that allowed the Kahoks to mount their comeback. Alton discussed the lax effort in the locker room and looked to fix it in the second half.
“When they went on their run we weren't rebounding so when we went in at halftime coach really emphasized us really getting the ball out and running, because they can't run with us,” Latham said. “When we weren't rebounding, one possession they got like five shots off. It was really just us rebounding and getting out running.”
The Birds came out rejuvenated in the third quarter. Latham hit a trio of treys and they constructed runs of 8-0 and 7-0, getting out and running the floor and outscoring Collinsville 17-7 in the frame to build a 53-35 advantage entering the fourth quarter.
“We struggled to score in the third quarter and that really hurt us the most,” Lee said. “That was after we cut it to eight.
“They can disrupt your offense. It's hard to run some of your sets and there's some quickness out there.”
It was the third straight win for the Redbirds and they have eclipsed the 70-point mark in each of those victories, but for Smith the impressive part of Friday's contest was the defense. When Alton is playing pressure defense and rebounding Smith believes the team is at its best.
“Yeah, we did a lot of things really well tonight I thought,” Smith said.
Maurice Edwards joined Latham in double figures, netting 14 points, while Trimble chipped in with 9 also.
Collinsville was led by Tommy Maden with 17 points. Maden knocked down five 3-pointers during his offensive effort.
AHS is now idle until 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 19 when it plays host to SWC-leading Edwardsville. The Tigers topped the Granite City Warriors 54-47 on Friday to improve to 19-4 and 10-0 on the league slate. The Redbirds are perched in second in the SWC, three games behind EHS.
ALTON 71, COLLINSVILLE 51
Redbirds 25 11 17 18 — 71
Kahoks 12 16 7 16 — 51
Alton (12-8, 8-3) — Marcus Latham 33, Jordan Golley 2, Tre Smith 4, Maurice Edwards 14, Paul Harris 6, Ty'ohn Trimble 9, Kenneth Burnett 2, Jonathan Bumpers 1. 2FG — 13 3FG — 10 FT — 15 PF — 15.
Collinsville (9-15, 1-9) — Tommy Maden 17, Zach Flora 4, Austin Knight 5, Ronnie Midgett 7, Jake Hall 1, Laron Johnson 6, Braeden Lemp 8, Jaaron Williams 3. 2FG — 11 3FG — 9 FT — 2 PF — 16.