Photo by Caleb Motsinger
Alton's Bryan Hudson shoots a free throw in a recent home game. Hudson's defensive heroics at the end of Friday's game enabled the Redbirds to win at Collinsville. He also scored 16 points in the 57-56 victory.
COLLINSVILLE – Bryan Hudson called it a shot of redemption in blocking Collinsville’s challenge to the Alton Redbirds on Friday night.
Thanks to Hudson’s last-second heroics, the Redbirds fended off the Kahoks, 57-56, in a Southwestern Conference boys basketball game at Vergil Fletcher Gym.
Alton, rated No. 10 in the latest Class 4A state poll, improved to 19-3 overall and 8-2 in the SWC. The Redbirds, tied with Edwardsville for the SWC lead, welcome Hazelwood Central Saturday night in a rescheduled game and then play host to the Tigers next Friday. Collinsville is 11-13 and 3-7.
“We feel fortunate to get the win,” AHS coach Eric Smith said afterward. Three of their 10 conference games have been decided by one point.
Hudson, a 6-foot-7 junior center, supplied the good fortune. He blocked Anfirnee Wilkinson’s jump shot with 2 seconds remaining to preserve the victory, the Birds' second over the Kahoks this season.
“I tried to block the shot,” said Hudson, who scored 16 points and blocked three other attempts along the way. “I wanted to do anything I could to make sure he (Wilkinson) couldn’t get the shot off at the end of the game.”
It proved to be some salvation for Hudson. He missed a last-second contested shot against Belleville East a week ago on the Lancers’ floor. This time, Hudson came to the rescue.
“It was a little redemption for me because that last shot has been on my mind,” Hudson said. “It was a rough one for me.”
Teammate D’Antae McMurray scored 17 points to power the Redbirds, but the Kahoks’ Wilkinson led all scorers with 20 points in a see-saw contest. Wilkinson is a 5-10 junior guard. Alton’s Michael Williams-Bey pitched in 11 points.
Collinsville used an 11-0 spurt in the first half to build a seven-point lead and led 28-27 at the break. The Redbirds jumped on the Kahoks in the third quarter when they went on a 12-4 spree for a seven-point lead. And Alton twice led by eight points, including a 50-42 advantage with 4:53 remaining.
Yet the Kahoks weren’t finished. They got to within 57-54 with 58 seconds to go and 57-56 with 13 seconds remaining. After Alton missed the front end of a bonus free throw try, the Kahoks went for the winning shot.
Wilkinson took it, but Hudson rejected it and thwarted the Kahoks’ upset bid.
“We felt that at this point in the season we really needed this win,” Hudson said. “We had to have it if we are going to win the conference.”
The Redbirds haven’t claimed the outright SWC championship since 1979-80. They have shared it a few times since then, the last one coming seven years ago.
“Brian made a big play at the end of the game to help us out,” Smith said. “But we have to do a lot of things better. The way we played tonight wasn’t who we are. We wanted more of a transition game on offense. There were stretches where our defense picked us up, but we didn’t sustain it.”
Alton welcomed back 6-5 junior forward Carlos Anderson, who missed the past 13 games because of a broken knuckle on the index finger of his right hand. Anderson scored five points and had a dunk.
“I’m not 100 percent yet,” Anderson said. “I have to get my chemistry back.”
O’Fallon’s 56-51 win over Belleville East knocked the Lancers out of a tie for first place in the SWC. The Lancers now have three conference defeats. Edwardsville, rated No. 5 in the 4A state poll, remained knotted with Alton for the league lead. The Tigers downed Granite City, 64-40.
CM 68, EA-WR 43 – Jansen Helmkamp hit for 20 points in directing the 15-10 Eagles past the 9-15 Oilers at Memorial Gym.
Ben Walker and Brett Lane both punched in 13 points for CM, which won for the second time this week. Tanner Pate’s 14 points were best for the Oilers. Teammate Mike Stimac collected 12 points, a dozen rebounds and blocked three shots.
Southwestern 69, Vandalia 45 – The Piasa Birds scorched Vandalia in a South Central Conference game on the Vandals' floor. Southwestern, bouncing back from a loss Tuesday at Roxana, improved to 15-10 overall and 5-2 in the SCC.
Sophomore Tyler Rose led the way with 19 points. Ethan Gallaher (13 points), Brian Lawson (12) and freshman Collin Baumgartner (10) also scored in double figures during the lopsided victory. The Piasa Birds have won 10 of their last 12 games.