GODFREY — Despite the snowy conditions, the Granite City Warriors had a very happy bus ride back home on Tuesday night.
After coming from behind to beat the Alton Redbirds 44-43 in a Southwestern Conference game at Alton High, the Warriors surpassed their win total of three from last year. Granite City improved to 4-12 overall and 2-7 in conference play.
“That was a goal, but I think these kids want a little more than that,” Granite City coach Whitney Sykes-Rogers said. “We want at least another or two more conference wins and we’re capable, especially when we have our whole team and we’re healthy. We’re fully capable of knocking off one of those other teams. So they can’t really overlook us.”
Both of Granite City’s conference wins were against Alton. On Dec. 10, the Warriors beat the Redbirds 43-31 at Memorial Gymnasium to snap a 30-game league losing streak.
On Tuesday, Granite City came back from a nine-point deficit with five minutes left in the fourth quarter to pull off the win.
“It was good because we got down by nine and didn’t give up,” said Sykes-Rogers, who is in her second season as Granite City coach. “You could see the heads started to go, but as soon as they got a few turnovers and some baskets, confidence started to come back and confidence brings energy sometimes and that’s what you need in that scenario.”
Junior Addaya Moore, who is playing in her first season with the Granite City squad after playing at Riverview Gardens the last two years, finished with 21 points, including the game-winning basket with five seconds left. She scored 12 points in the fourth quarter.
“They (Alton) were tough on her inside and you got to give them credit,” Sykes-Rogers said. “They posted on her and made it difficult. In the fourth quarter, she turned it up and became the best player on the floor.”
The Redbirds dropped to 3-15 overall and 0-9 in conference play. Senior LaJarvia Brown scored 21 points, including 14 in the first half to lead Alton.
“LaJarvia played hard and we had some girls who played hard, but we were making mistakes we shouldn’t have made,” Alton coach Bob Rickman said. “We leave her (Moore) wide open and nobody was within 20 feet of her. You can’t let that happen.”
The Redbirds were coming off a 48-45 win over Jennings on Monday to snap a five-game losing streak. They also had wins over Eureka and Springfield Lanphier.
“It’s very disappointing,” Rickman said of the season. “You go into this season with two seniors (Brown and Jewel Wagner) that we have and you have higher expectations. It’s just very disappointing that the way things have gone. The lack of depth and lack of experience outside of those two really hurt you.”
Alton led 25-20 at halftime after freshman Cri’Shonna Hickman hit a basket as time expired in the second quarter. The Redbirds led 39-30 after Brown hit a 3-pointer with 5:11 left in the game.
But Alton made just two field goals for the rest of the contest.
“We lost a game that we should not have lost,” Rickman said. “That’s a bad game.”
With her performance on Tuesday, Moore boosted her average to a team-high 18 points per game. She scored 18 in the Warriors’ last meeting against Alton.
Also for Granite City, sophomore Donyai Garrett scored 12 points with a pair of 3-pointers. She’s the Warriors’ second leading scorer at 11 points per game.
“She has picked it up immensely,” Sykes-Rogers said. “She’s averaging 17-18 points a game in the last four. She has done such a good job.”
The Warriors will hit the road again on Saturday as they play West Central in the first round of the Carrollton Tournament.
“We look forward to playing in it because there are a lot of teams there that we can play with,” Sykes-Rogers said. “CM is in it and they’re a very good team and we played with them. It was an eight-point game (Jersey Tournament) and we were right there. Calhoun is a very good team. They’re going to be tough with their size. There are some other teams that we haven’t seen that are not from necessarily around here. It’s just a good tournament to see some different people instead of the same kind of mix over and over.”