GODFREY — LaJarvia Brown pointed the Alton girls’ basketball team in the right direction Friday night and the Redbirds gladly followed her.
They enjoyed a 59-23 victory over Springfield Lanphier in the AHS Tip-Off Classic. Alton, which improved to 1-1, plays 1-1 Jersey at 6 p.m. Saturday for third place in the six-team tournament.
“We were in control of things tonight and played our game,” said the 5-foot-3 Brown, a senior guard. She scored a game-best 18 points by connecting on 7 of 11 shots and 4 of 4 free throws. Brown’s eight points in the first quarter allowed the Redbirds to shoot in front 17-3 and they never looked back.
“I think we learned a lot from Monday’s game,” Brown said of the Redbirds’ 40-28 season-opening loss to Breese Mater Dei. “It was a different team, but we were more prepared and in synch with each other.
“It was a great team win.”
Redbirds’ coach Bob Rickman agreed.
“It’s nice to get the first win. We just weren’t mentally ready Monday, but tonight it was a different story,” he said. “We moved the ball better, handled their pressure, we calmed down and everybody contributed. I was proud of how everybody responded.”
No fewer than a dozen Redbirds scored as they dropped Lanphier to 0-2. The Lions meet 0-2 Cahokia at 4:30 p.m. Saturday for fifth place. It’s 2-0 Calhoun, the defending tournament champion, clashing with Mater Dei at 7:30 p.m. in the title test. The Warriors used Grace Baalman’s 29 points Friday to clobber Cahokia, 71-26.
Alton’s Kenya Burnett pitched in nine points, including seven during the first half, to complement Brown’s point production. Brown netted 14 points before the break as the Redbirds opened a 29-14 lead. They led 45-19 after three quarters.
“LaJarvia can do some special things,” Rickman said.
Brown said, “What I’m trying to do is to be the team leader and set an example for the younger players.”
The Redbirds’ bench tallied 20 points, with Deija Carter, a 5-10 freshman, scoring six points in limited action.
“We have some freshmen that have a lot of athletic ability,” Rickman said. “They have a lot of potential. They just need to get some experience.”
And the experience of competing in a lopsided game enabled the Redbirds to get all involved.
“It was wonderful to see everybody scoring like that,” Brown said. “Now, it would be great to finish 2-1 in our tournament. That’s our goal.”
Sour shooting hounded Lanphier all night. The Lions made only 8 of 50 shots and were a woeful 5-for-22 on their free throws. Arrion Burton and Jeniya Griffin led them with seven points apiece.
“I think our defense had something to do with that,” Rickman said of Lanphier’s frigid shooting. “If we continue to play good defense, we can become a good team.”
Rickman added, “We were more aggressive tonight and it was a good step forward for us. It’ll be a quick turnaround Saturday against Jersey. They had the night off Friday and they will be a challenge for us.”
ALTON TIP-OFF CLASSIC
ALTON 59, SPRINGFIELD LANPHIER 23
Lanphier 3 11 5 4 – 23
Alton 17 12 16 14 – 59
Lanphier (0-2) — Arrion Burton 7, Jeniya Griffin 7, Destiny Allen 2, Faith Price 2, Jamerah Tyler 1, Jaala Smylie 4. 2FG-6 3FG-2 FT-5 PF-14
Alton (1-1) — LaJarvia Brown 18, Jewel Wagner 6, Ayonna Clanton 2, Chayvon Buckingham 4, Kenya Burnett 9, Deija Carter 6, Cri’Shonna Hickman 4, Jayla Fox-Wallace 2, Katie Kercher 2, Leilani Hill 2, A’llurah Bowens 3, Ashlyn Green 1. 2FG-25 3FG-1 FT-6 PF-18