EDWARDSVILLE — The East Alton-Wood River Oilers and neighboring Roxana Shells faced off in an early season showdown at the Metro East Lutheran Turkey Tip off Tuesday. The Shells earned bragging rights with 64-55 victory.
EA-WR is starting their season with a new game plan after senior Mike Stimac aggravated an old injury to his knee vs. Freeburg on Monday and was forced to the sidelines vs. Roxana.
The first half was a tight battle between Roxana and EA-WR, with the Oilers taking a surprising four-point lead midway through the second quarter. The Shells rebounded though, keeping the Oilers scoreless in the last two minutes of the first half, taking a 27-25 lead at the half.
"We had to tighten up our defense," Roxana senior Randy Skiff said. "Chance (Foss) and I got into foul trouble early. We had to make sure we got our shots off and didn't miss simple baskets. The Oilers were on fire in the first half, we couldn't do much to stop them. We knew we had to take advantage once they let up a little bit."
The Shells took control in the third quarter, extending their lead to 12 points, while the Oilers struggled to get their offensive game going.
EA-WR found a quick revitalizing burst midway through the fourth to bring the Oilers back within a two-point margin, but they would never retake the lead. The Shells kept ball possession and forced the Oilers to foul in the final minutes.
The win puts the Shells in good position when they face Freeburg at 8 p.m. Wednesday to determine the winner of Pool D. The Midgets bested the Oilers 56-36 on Monday, so Freeburg and Roxana both sit at 1-0.
Seniors Trace Gentry and Skiff netted 15 points each to lead the Shells in scoring. Roxana brings young talent to the court in 6-foot-3 freshman Jordan Hawkins, who put up 13 points in the win.
"We got into trouble in the first half, but were able to start executing our game plan by the half,” Roxana head coach Mark Briggs said. "We thought we were going to have a big night tonight. Randy (Skiff) had a great night and that bailed us out. Hawkins, as a freshman, he did a tremendous job for us tonight. He went out under pressure in a big game like this and did a great job."
The Oilers take the next two days off and hope to avoid the turkey coma before facing their next challenger on Friday at MELHS. They are mathematically eliminated from winning in pool play with the pair of losses.
"Missing Stimac's 20 points per game and 12 rebounds makes a big difference, but we really played hard tonight." EA-WR head coach Kyle Duncan said. "I know the guys had it in them — we executed our game plan about as well as we could. We had mistakes here and there and had a lot of missed lay-ups. I know our guys worked hard and I can't ask for anything better than that."
In the other games at MELHS on Tuesday: New Athens beat Staunton 52-40, Litchfield bested Marissa 48-37, Southwestern defeated Dupo 70-26, Valmeyer beat Christ Our Rock 56-44 and Morrisonville won over Gillespie 72-68.
MELHS TURKEY TIP-OFF
ROXANA 64, EA-WR 55
EA-WR 17 8 7 23 — 55
Roxana 14 13 17 20 — 64
EA-WR (0-2) — Blake Marks 21, Zac Butkovich 14, Dillon Buck 13, Justin Englar 3, Nic Daily 2, Zach Lafferty 2. 2FG — 13 3FG — 7, FT — 8 PF — 20
Roxan (1-0) — Trace Gentry 15, Randy Skiff 15, Jordan Hawkins 13, Zach Golenor 10, Cody McMillen 6, Chance Foss 5. 2FG — 23 3FG — 1 FT — 15 PF — 13