East Alton-Wood River senior guard Blake Marks achieved something few varsity basketball players ever accomplish on Dec. 16 at Memorial Gymnasium in Wood River.
The senior crossed the 1,000-point mark in a contest against Brussels, making Marks one of 14 players in school history to do so. The big moment game on a three-point play at the 5:59 mark in the second quarter. Marks led EA-WR’s offense in the game with 23 points; 19 came in the first half. He also recorded 11 rebounds in the 54-35 win.
“I never thought I’d get there,” Marks said after the game. “I never thought I’d get to 1,000 points. I proved myself wrong.”
Marks follows in the footsteps of Mike Stimac, who was the last EA-WR hoopster to join the elite club last season. Dan Coddington is the school’s all-time scoring leader with 1,582 points.
Marks is averaging 23 points and 7.2 rebounds per game this season. Although the Oilers lost their season opener to Litchfield 72-52 on Nov. 23 in the Metro East Lutheran Turkey Tip-Off Tournament, Marks proved to be a force, as he scored 32 points — his season high in a game to this point. He erupted for 116 points in 5 games at the Turkey Tip-Off.
The guard saw a limited amount of varsity action as a freshman before moving up to varsity as a sophomore.
“It was scary and exciting, being a freshman and stepping up into that role,” he said of his freshman season.
Marks has become known as a player who can make the most out of going inside, as he’s proven proficient in inside shooting and the three-point play.
“I’m just going into the basket looking to make contact and looking to convert the play,” he said.
While he’s certainly scored on his share of three-point plays, Marks also shoots well from the outside. He’s recorded 13 treys this season, as he leads his team in the category.
“I don’t let them come to me,” Marks said. “If I have an open shot, I’ll pull up and try to stick it.”
As a junior, the guard averaged 19 points per game and earned all-Prairie State Conference honors. EA-WR improved to 4-5 this season with the win over Brussels.
“I need to step up for my team and dive in the right way so we can get some wins in the Prairie State Conference and hopefully be a winning basketball team,” Marks said.
Marks also plays baseball. He’s received scholarship offers for baseball but has talked to some small colleges about playing basketball.
“I think it prepares your mental game,” he said of playing two sports. “It gets you focused and know what the experience is like. It helps you get better as an athlete.”
When it comes to mental attitude, Marks said he only wants to be ready for every game. Oilers’ head coach Kyle Duncan can speak of the senior’s abilities on defense. Duncan started as head coach four years ago during Marks’ freshman season.
“When he was a freshman, he was a skinny set shooter,” Duncan said. “All he did was sit outside and shoot and he never really attacked the basket. He’s developed an all-around game where he attacks off of the dribble, attacks the basket, knocks down free throws and comes off of screens.”
Duncan said he talked to Marks about his aggressiveness in the early years and Marks followed up with a solid work ethic. Although scoring pleases fans, Duncan likes to compliment the senior’s defense.
“A lot of times he doesn’t get the credit he deserves for his defense,” Duncan said. “We can put him on the other team’s best scorer and he’ll do a good job, if not shut him down. He plays so hard on both ends of the court; it’s pretty impressive.”
EA-WR and Marks now enter the Carlinville Holiday Tournament. The Oilers open with Gillespie at 8 p.m. Saturday. They continue with games against Bunker Hill at 3:30 p.m. Monday and Mount Olive at 2 p.m. Tuesday to find out where they land in the placement games on the tourney’s final day on Wednesday.
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