GODFREY – Some stifling and crunching defense carried the Alton Redbirds to their tournament basketball championship Saturday.
The Redbirds defeated Chatham Glenwood, 52-41, in the title game of the Tip-Off Classic at AHS. They improved to 4-0. Glenwood dropped to 3-1.
“It was pretty similar to Wednesday’s game with Jacksonville,” Alton coach Eric Smith said. “They (Titans) had to run their offense so hard against our defense that we wore them down.”
Isaiah Thurmond, a 6-foot-1 senior guard, spurred the Redbirds’ guarding ways. He was one of six players hounding Glenwood’s Cole Harper, the tourney MVP. Harper, a 6-foot-5 senior bound for Minnesota State, scored 17 points, but took just 11 shots. He tallied 32 points Friday against Northwest Academy of St. Louis.
“I like to focus on defense,” Thurmond said, “and we wanted to play good defense on him. We wanted to lock him up.”
Mostly, the Birds used a box-and-1 setup to harass Harper, who fouled out in the final minute. They also alternated with man-to-man guarding and tended to frustrate the Titans.
“They are a very talented team,” Glenwood coach Todd Blakeman said of the Redbirds. “We knew they were quick and strong and maybe their quickness and strength caught up with us late in the game.
“Alton got us in foul trouble early in the game and they did a nice job. It was a good test for us.”
It took a grinding effort for the Redbirds to flex their muscles. They led 29-23 at half and gradually increased their advantage to 42-31 late in the third quarter. Glenwood got to within 46-39 with 2:50 remaining in the game, but Carlos Anderson of the Redbirds responded with a pair of baskets, including a thunderous dunk off a steal, to seal it.
“Our goal is to win games and winning the championship of this tournament is a good feeling,” Smith said. “It was a grinder of a game and our kids stuck to the game plan. There are different ways to win games.”
Bryan Hudson’s 11 points led the Redbirds. Darrius Edwards pitched in 10 points and Anderson added nine points. All three were named to the first team of the Bill Drake all-tournament squad. DeMarkis Gary of Northwest and Harper joined them. Alton’s Maurice Edwards was one of five players chosen to the second team.
“It’s a great way to start the season and the way we wanted it,” Hudson said of the tourney title. The Birds went 3-0 to claim the 2013 championship.
Thurmond said, “I think winning it we be a huge confidence boost for us. We played hard and we played good defense.”
Alton was patient enough to convert 19 of 33 shots, though the Redbirds were just 12 of 22 from the foul line. They had a dozen turnovers. Glenwood connected on 15 of 43 shots, with Harper making six of them. No other Titan scored in double figures.
“Cole’s a nice player and very mature one,” Blakeman said. Harper is a great nephew of former Collinsville High and University of Illinois standout Bogie Redmon, who watched his relative play at AHS.
Jacksonville beat Northwest Academy, 63-45, on Saturday for third place. The Crimsons finished 2-2 here, while the Lions went 1-3. Vashon of St. Louis, idle the final night, closed at 0-4.
ALTON TIP-OFF CLASSIC
ALTON 52, CHATHAM GLENWOOD 41
Glenwood 12 11 10 8 – 41
Alton 13 16 13 9 – 52
Glenwood (3-1) – Harper 17, Allen 4, Hammond 3, Hunt 3, Parriott 8, S. Anderson 6. 2FG-12 3FG-3 FT-8 PF-18
Alton (4-0) – D. Edwards 10, C. Anderson 9, Hudson 11, Thurmond 8, M. Edwards 5, Lovings 2, Wigfall 3, Hobbs 4. 2FG-17 3FG-2 FT-12 PF-13