GODFREY — Alton High head coach Bobby Rickman wanted to create a premier event for girls' basketball in the metro east with the Atrium Hotel Great Rivers Shootout at AHS. It led to a pretty good day of basketball on Saturday on the Redbirds' court.
Locally, Alton pulled out a 48-45 win over Jennings, snapping a five-game losing skid, while the Civic Memorial Eagles ran into a buzz saw in Parkway North, falling 62-45 in a tough contest. The Redbirds improved to 3-14 with the win, while the Eagles slipped to 11-8 with the loss, their second straight.
Other games on the day included: Calhoun topping St. Joseph's Academy 63-48; Incarnate Word Academy besting Regis Jesuit of Colorado 59-27 and Francis Howell losing to Memphis Central of Tennessee 52-47.
“This is exactly what we expected, what we wanted and I'm happy with the team we got put up against,” CM head coach Jonathan Denney said of the shootout. “It took us out of our comfort zone and that's what our girls need and maybe it will benefit us down the road.”
Rickman admitted he should have scheduled it a little differently. He led the day with the Calhoun and CM games and put the Redbirds later in the day and he thinks he could have done a better job of keeping seats filled.
“It was a good day, but maybe I should have put our game a little earlier where we would have been in between CM and Hardin Calhoun,” Rickman said. “It's bad that we host the event and CM has got 100 to 200 people here, Hardin Calhoun has got 100 to 200 people here and we've got 25. But part of that is when you've got two wins, Hardin Calhoun and CM have much better records that cause people to be there for them, so that's the difference, but it was a good day.”
Alton 48, Jennings 45
A win is a win is a win.
Alton cruised much of the way against Jennings, but allowed the Warriors to charge back and set up a quirky ending before ultimately winning.
It was bittersweet for Rickman, who was happy to win, but frustrated with the lack of execution in the latter portion of the game.
“A win is a win is a win is very true, but this is a learning process for a relatively young team outside of Jewel (Wagner) and LaJarvia (Brown),” Rickman said. “We had some bad shot selections, we made some bad decisions and we've got to have people make better decisions. I thought that hurt us and people that I thought were better at making decisions just didn't do it and we've got to figure that out.”
AHS led 11-9 after one quarter, 25-15 at half and forged ahead 35-23 with 2:12 to go in the third, but still found itself down 40-38 with 2:27 remaining in the game before clawing back.
“I think we may have gotten a little too comfortable,” said Alton senior LaJarvia Brown, who led all scorers in the game with 27 points. “Then we got a little rattled when they started coming back and had turnovers. We do that a lot.”
A 3-pointer by Jennings' Cyerra Caldwell with 2:27 left pushed the Warriors in front 39-38. Then Jayla Gary hit the front end of two free throws to make it 40-38.
Brown was able to tie it at 40-40 with a bucket and Jennings called a timeout. The momentum shift came on the return to the floor. The Warriors inbounded the ball and Tyerra Caldwell got caught in the moment and put a layup in Alton's basket, handing the Redbirds a 42-40 advantage. Jewel Wagner was credited with the score as the closest defender to the play.
Caldwell immediately grabbed her head, realizing what she had done.
“I feel horrible for her, nobody would want to be in that position,” Jennings head coach Theresa Humble said. “In the timeout we went over how we were supposed to run our press breaker in order to get Amani White open. I think it just took (Caldwell) by surprise that she was open and just the intensity of the game I guess. She's pretty upset.”
Rian Logan was able to tie it at 42-42 with a basket with 1:02 to play, but Wagner answered with a short jumper with 46.4 seconds to go to give the Birds the lead for good. Brown added four free throws before White hit a late trey for the Warriors in the final second.
Brown thought being able to win in Alton's inaugural shootout in front of the home fans was great, even though she thought the Redbirds could have played a little better.
“It felt good to bounce back after last night,” Brown said. “And after the losing streak we've been on it felt good to finally pull one off. I think we could have played a little better. It was a little too close, but a win is a win and I'll take it.”
Joining Brown in the scoring column for AHS were: Wagner with 6 points, Kenya Burnett and Ayonna Clanton with 5 each, Cri'shonna Hickman with 3 and Ashlyn Green with 2.
White paced the Warriors with 20 points.
Parkway North 62, CM 45
The Parkway North Vikings are one of the best teams in the metropolitan area and they showed why at AHS on Saturday.
With their 62-45 win over CM, the Vikings improved to 13-1 on the season. Even with the loss of Texas recruit Alecia Sutton to a knee injury, they are a potent program.
North's speed gave the Eagles fits, forcing them into a season-high 25 turnovers and their most lopsided loss of the year.
Denney wasn't too disappointed though. It was the game he wanted to take his Eagles out of their comfort zone and they competed, which was all he could ask.
“I think we won the game in the first and third quarters and lost in the second and fourth,” Denney said. “When you give up a lead early and then you get down at halftime, fight back from 14 down you expend so much energy coming back that the fourth quarter rolled around and I just think we were a little tired and made poor decisions, didn't take care of the ball and quit boxing out and all those things we did well in the third quarter getting back into the game.
“I feel like the game was a lot closer than a 17-point game, but it is what it is. We've got to play better when the game is on the line.”
As grueling and competitive as the Eagles' schedule is on the season, Denney was quick to admit North is the fastest team they've seen without question.
“It's not even close,” he said. “We play some really good, gritty, tough, well coached basketball teams — there aren't too many easy games on there — but as far as the physicality, the speed, the size and even the strength of their post players I think they gave us a different dimension we haven't seen. That's why we played this game, we wanted to be out of our comfort zone a little bit and I think they saw that they could compete.”
CM built an 11-4 lead early after Kaylee Eaton hit her second of three 3-pointers at the 3:15 mark of the first quarter, but the Vikings charged back and the game was knotted at 15-15 at period's end.
North found its footing in the second quarter, outscoring the Eagles 14-5 to carry a 29-20 lead into the break.
The Vikings were cruising when Mya Johnson's basket at the 4:03 mark made it 41-27, but CM refused to disappear.
Allie Troeckler's bucket with 3:47 left in the third kick started a 12-0 run to close the frame. When the horn sounded the Eagles had whittled the deficit to 41-39. Troeckler scored 10 of the 12 points on the spree. Izzy Buckley provided the other basket on the run.
“Troeckler is an outstanding player and she got her 24, but we made everything tough for her,” Vikings' coach Brett Katz said. “I think her shooting percentage was held down a little bit from what she usually gets, so that was a bonus for us. It was an outstanding team win.”
Troeckler extended the run to 14-0 with a score to open the fourth quarter, tying the contest at 41-41. It was also knotted at 43-43 when North exploded for its run.
The Vikings turned up the heat on a 12-0 spurt of their own to nab a 55-43 lead and ultimately outscored CM 21-6 in the fourth to set up a lopsided final.
Troeckler's 24 points led all scorers. She was joined in the scoring by Eaton with 9 points, Alaira Tyus with 6, Katelyn Turbyfill with 4 and Buckley with 2. Julia Lappe directed North with 22 points, while Amaya Stovall complemented her with 17.
Troeckler added to a school rebounding record on Saturday, too. She now has 639 in her career and surpassed Sara Frankford's 613, which was the previous record set from 1988-92. Troeckler set the new benchmark in a 50-45 win over Quincy Notre Dame on Jan. 8.