Photo by Theo Tate
The Granite City boys’ basketball team huddles before its game against the Alton Redbirds on Dec. 11 at Memorial Gymnasium. The boys’ team plays Hazelwood East in the first round of the Prairie Farms Classic on Dec. 28 at Collinsville High.
Steve Roustio has reason to be concerned about his Granite City boys’ basketball team as it heads into the holiday break.
The Warriors lost back-to-back Southwestern Conference games after starting off their league season at 2-0. Granite City lost to Edwardsville 69-53 on the road on Friday.
“That’s not good,” the Granite City coach said.
The Warriors will look to snap their losing streak at 9:30 p.m. Monday, when they play the Hazelwood East Spartans in a first-round game of the Prairie Farms Classic at Collinsville High. Granite City will take a 5-3 record into its game with Hazelwood East.
If the Warriors beat the Spartans, they’ll face Althoff in the second round at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday in the quarterfinals. The Crusaders, who placed second in the Class 3A state tournament last year, are seeded No. 1 in the 16-team tournament and are 7-1.
“If we win against East, we’ll play Althoff,” Granite City senior Ron Allen said. “They’ve got some good players and we’re looking to compete.”
Prairie Farms is the new sponsor of the Collinsville tournament, which runs from Monday through Wednesday. Schnucks was the tournament’s sponsor for 31 years.
Also, the Granite City girls’ basketball team will be competing in the Jersey Holiday Tournament, which also runs from Monday through Wednesday. The Warriors also have a two-game losing streak.
Granite City is guaranteed to play four games in Jerseyville. The Warriors play Calhoun at 1:30 p.m. and Civic Memorial at 7:30 p.m. on Monday and host Jerseyville at 3 p.m. on Tuesday.
Granite City will take a 2-5 record into its game with Calhoun, which finished second in the Class 1A state tournament a year ago.
“Calhoun and Civic Memorial will be very difficult basketball games,” Granite City coach Whitney Sykes-Rogers said. “They’re two very good teams. Calhoun is very big. They have three girls who are 6-foot tall and plus. They’re hard to guard and they’re athletic, so that will be a challenge. CM has been playing well for the past several years and they have one fabulous player (Allie Troeckler) on their team, so we have our work cut out for us.”
Last year, the Warrior boys finished 2-2 in the Collinsville tournament. They beat a pair of Decatur schools — MacArthur in the first round and Eisenhower in the consolation semifinals.
On Monday, the Warriors will be playing a Hazelwood East team that is 3-1.
“We play at 9:30 at night in Collinsville, so whatever team is better being a night owl will probably have an advantage,” Roustio said.
Roustio said in order to beat the Spartans, they can’t repeat what happened against Edwardsville on Friday. Granite City trailed 15-5 after the first quarter and never recovered.
“We’ve got to make shots,” Roustio said. “We’ve been through this before where we come in here (Edwardsville) and in the first quarter, we’re down 15-3 or something because we’re 2 for 12 from the floor. You’re going to struggle if you shoot that poorly.”
Kenny Berry, who earned all-tournament honors last year, is the Warriors’ leading scorer at 20.5 points per game. The Allen brothers, Ron and Tra’, are averaging 10 points per game.
The Warriors are playing in their second tournament of the season. Granite City won the Stove Top Stuffing Thanksgiving Tournament in November.
The Warriors beat O’Fallon and Belleville West in conference play. They have surpassed their league win total of one from last year.
On Dec. 10, the Granite City girls’ squad beat Alton 43-31 to snap a 30-game conference losing streak. The Warriors were 0-14 in each of the last two seasons.
“That was good for us,” Sykes-Rogers said. “It was a little confidence builder to know that you can play in this conference.”
Then, Granite City lost back-to-back games to O’Fallon and Edwardsville to drop to 1-3 in conference play. The Warriors lost 69-33 to Edwardsville on Thursday.
Granite City’s other win was against Orchard Farm on Dec. 4 at the Orchard Farm Tournament. They also lost games to Belleville West, Duchesne and Fort Zumwalt North.
“We have our ups and downs,” Sykes said. “The effort has been there. Like in the first half in this game (against Edwardsville), the effort has not been there and I was a little upset about that. But in the second half, they turned it up a little bit. It was a tie game in the second half, so we’ll take that as a victory for us. But we have to learn that we have to go hard at all times. We really can’t afford not to.”
Junior Addaya Moore, a transfer from Riverview Gardens, is the Warriors’ top scorer at 16 points per game.
“She’s doing good,” Sykes-Rogers said. “We just need to try to get her a little more help. Sometimes she feels like she has to do too much at times. But then again, if we don’t do that sometimes, we’ll turn the ball over and we need to realize that we have to help her a little more than what we’ve been doing. It’s getting better. We have a few players scoring a little bit. So I’m hoping that we get two players to get seven or eight points a game to help her out and get some pressure off.”