GODFREY – The Alton Redbirds got back to doing what they do best Tuesday. All you need to do is ask them about it.
They blitzed Belleville West, 63-50, in a Southwestern Conference and ended a two-game skid. Alton, now 21-5 overall and 9-4 in the SWC, closes its regular season Friday at O’Fallon. West, falling to the Redbirds for the second time this season, is 5-19 and 2-11.
“We got back to playing our game and we got on a roll,” AHS junior forward Darrius Edwards said. He scored 17 points, including 12 in the third quarter when the Maroons tried to mount a comeback.
Edwards added, “We worked hard in practice this week because we were fired up about losing our last two game.”
The Redbirds came out with plenty of fire, leading 7-0 and then 20-4 by the end of the first quarter. West made only 2 of 9 shots in the opening quarter and had nine turnovers. The Maroons made 25 of them overall.
“You can’t dig a hole like we did against a team like Alton,” West coach Joe Muniz said. “If they get energized like they did at the start of the game against us, they are hard to beat.
“They can feast on your turnovers.”
Carlos Anderson and D’Antae McMurray joined Edwards in making it an elegant feast. Anderson tallied a game-best 19 points, thanks in part to three dunks and a trey. McMurray pitched in 13 points and contributed sharp passing and several steals to the cause.
“We wanted to get back to what we were doing – putting pressure on people and getting our offense going,” Anderson said. “We went out and played the way we want to play.”
AHS coach Eric Smith liked what he saw. “There was a lot of fluidity in the way we played,” he said. “We didn’t labor with things like we have been doing. It was more natural and free-flowing.”
Anderson netted eight of his points in the first quarter and forced the Maroons to battle uphill the rest of the night. West closed to within 32-26 with 5:40 remaining in the third quarter, but the Redbirds got rolling again. They went on a 12-1 spree – thanks to Edwards’ eight points – and the Maroons couldn’t counter.
“Offensively, it was one of Darrius’ better game,” Smith said. “He’s really good when he puts the ball on the floor and takes it to the basket. And Carlos started our transition game a few times. When he gets going like that, nobody can stop him.”
Guard Demond White led Belleville West with 11 points and 6-foot-5 freshman Tyler Dancy tossed in nine points. Dancy is the son of Cahokia girls’ basketball coach Fred Dancy.
The Birds are still without senior guard Michael Williams-Bey. He’s recovering from bruised ribs and could play next week.
After Alton’s game Friday, the Redbirds will play next week in the Quincy Class 4A Regional. The Redbirds, seeded second behind Southwestern Conference champion Edwardsville, battle the host Blue Devils at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 5. The Tigers meet Granite City at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 4.
If Alton and Edwardsville reach the regional championship game, it could be played on Friday, March 7 at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville’s Vadalabene Center instead of Quincy.
And the sectional semifinal game between the Quincy Regional winner and Belleville West Regional victor also could be played on Tuesday, March 11 at SIUE. If so, Granite City would serve as the sectional host.
ALTON 63, BELLEVILLE WEST 50
West 4 16 13 17 – 50
Alton 20 10 22 11 – 63
West (5-19, 2-11) – Henke 6, Hill 4, Roberts 7, Fowler 7, Givens 6, White 11, Dancy 9. 2FG-17 3FG-1 FT-13 PF-16
Alton (21-5, 9-4) – McMurray 13, Anderson 19, Edwards 17, Hobbs 6, Young 6, Perry 2. 2FG-20 3FG-5 FT-8 PF-18