WOOD RIVER — The Roxana Shells continued to write a success story on Friday night with a lopsided non-conference win over the rival East Alton-Wood River Oilers at Memorial Gym in Wood River.
The Shells improved to 6-1 with the 66-37 win. Roxana established dominance early. It pulled ahead 5-0 behind a 3-pointer from Blake Vandiver and a basket from Trace Gentry. Cody Blacklock’s free throws at the 6:07 mark in the first quarter cut Roxana’s lead to three points (5-2). But the Shells never lost the lead in the first quarter and led 15-11 at the end of the frame.
Roxana continued to own the lead in the second quarter, but Blake Marks’ basket at the 6:50 mark pulled EA-WR within five points, as the Shells led 20-15. However, the Oilers couldn’t manage a momentum surge and Roxana went on to outscore the Oilers 10-7 in the remainder of the quarter and led 30-23 at halftime.
The Shells really turned on the scoring in the second half. Roxana raced out on an 8-2 run in the third quarter and led 38-25 with 4:49 left in the stanza. Roxana led 46-31 at the end of the quarter. The Shells went on to outscore the Oilers 20-6 in the fourth quarter.
Roxana coach Mark Briggs believed hitting big shots was key to the win.
“Our kids stuck with the plan,” Briggs said. “(Blake) Marks came out and scored 15 points in the first half. He hit some tough shots. Everybody is used to doubling him and doing box-in-ones. We told our kids we’re going to guard with one guy and we’re going to switch off. Fatigue finally set in with Marks, he can only do so much.”
Marks led EA-WR’s (3-5) offense with 17 points, leaving him 13 points shy of 1,000 in his career.
“He (Marks) had two points in the second half,” Briggs said. “In the first half, nine of his points were contested. We told our kids that everyone had to guard him, not just one kid. (Chance) Foss was assigned to him. Foss is one of the most tenacious defenders in the Riverbend area if not the area period. He takes pride in shutting guys down.”
EA-WR head coach Kyle Duncan also felt the Shells’ defense was effective against Marks.
“They did a good job on him,” he said. “The best I’ve seen anyone do all year. They limited his shots. Every shot was pretty tough.”
Duncan also said his team had to play a more aggressive form of defense with Roxana’s scoring spree in the third quarter. In addition, the Oilers switched from zone to man-to-man in the second half.
“We had to do a lot of things we didn’t want to do,” Duncan said. “We had to gamble some to try and get the ball back. They played really well tonight and I think our kids played really tough and we were with them for about two and a half quarters. Then the wheels fell off.”
Roxana had a trio of players in double figures, as Gentry finished with 25 points, Zachary Golenor scored 16 and Cody McMillen threw in 12.
“Gentry hit huge shots and Golenor came out in the third quarter and established himself,” Briggs said. “We had a kid (Blake Vandiver) go down (in the first half) with an injured wrist, but we got some good minutes off of our bench. Gentry did everything Marks did in the first half.”
Gentry commented on his team’s dominance in the second half.
“We ran the floor really well and moved the ball real well,” he said. “When we did the execution, it got the points going.”
Roxana returns to action at 6 p.m. Saturday at Pana in the South Central Conference.
The Oilers next contest is at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday as they play host to Brussels. Marks will look to join the 1,000-point club in the game, joining Mike Stimac who did it last season. Dan Coddington (1,582 points) is the all-time leader at EA-WR.