DECATUR — East St. Louis coach Tony Young's script for success was front and center Saturday afternoon.
Young used 13 players and nine of them scored as the Flyers survived a late scare and downed (Harvey) Thornton 55-50 in the Decatur Turkey Tournament.
It was East Side's first victory in three games this season under Young, its new coach. The Flyers opened the tournament with losses to Springfield Southeast (71-70) and (Decatur) Eisenhower (49-46).
"That was a good game for us," Young said. "The first two games were close games. A credit to the teams that beat us because they beat us. But we made a lot of simple mistakes -- 20-plus turnovers each game. A lot of simple things that could have been easily corrected.
"So to come out today and look more poised and look more under control after talking to them and showing them the film ... I'm not going to say they get it, but I think they're starting to understand it a little bit more."
Senior Johnny McCray led East St. Louis with 15 points, sharing game-high honors with Thornton senior Brian Nicholson, who spurred the Wildcats' fourth-quarter comeback with four baskets.
Senior Dan Williams had nine points and two 3-pointers and senior Joseph Cook had seven points off the bench for East St. Louis. Deshawn Munson had just six points, but the senior had a dunk and was the best passer on the floor.
"I tell everybody this, but Munson is a one-stop shop for a lot of things you want him to do," Young said. "He can pass the ball, he can be a great defender, he's athletic and can get to the rim at will. But his passing is one of the things that goes unnoticed a lot. The kid can pass the ball unbelievable.
"People might try to play off of him because his jump shot's not the strongest, so you want him to be able to pass the ball. You want the ball in his hands so he can make plays for other people."
East Side, which led 41-23 on Munson's stuff to open the fourth quarter, committed three consecutive turnovers and saw its advantage shrivel to 50-48 on a 13-footer by Nicholson with 47 seconds to play that highlighted an 11-0 push.
McCray made one of two free throws to make it 51-48 with 35.6 seconds left, then had a putback after a turnover by Thornton (0-3) that made it 53-48 at the 17-second mark.
Nicholson scored again to make it 53-50 with six ticks remaining, and Flyers senior Travon McCray was fouled with 2.5 seconds left. McCray missed the first of a one-and-one, but McCray sealed the contest with a rebound bucket just ahead of the buzzer.
Young was pleased to see so many players contribute offensively.
"That's the sign of a good team," he said. "Everyone can't be a superstar. Everybody will have their moments, everyone will have their opportunities. But the sign of a good team is when everybody can step up and contribute."
Munson didn't start in the season opener Wednesday and didn't play at all in the game Friday because of disciplinary reasons. He started against Thornton and finished 3-for-11 from the field.
"He's a kid, and that's the biggest thing," Young said. "He's a kid and kids are going to make mistakes. Kids are going to go through trials and tribulations. Me, as a coach, I've got to be able to actually get on him and push him in the right direction to get things done.
"You've got to keep him focused; you've got to keep reminding him of what his purpose is right now."
Asked whether Munson is in the clear for the time being, Young said: "Did you see the game? He'll be all right."
Flyers senior Cedric Washington matched Munson with six points. Junior Justin Taylor had 13 points for the Wildcats.
East Side returns to action at 7:45 p.m. Friday in its Southwestern Conference opener at Alton.
Contact reporter David Wilhelm at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2665.