BELLEVILLE — Teams trying to slow down Belleville East star Malcolm Hill have found little success, but they've also found out junior point guard Darreon Reddick can burn them just as easily.
Reddick fired in 25 points and was 8-for-8 at the free-throw line Wednesday, making a major impact in the Lancers' 61-51 victory over Althoff at the Chick-fil-A Classic.
"We go in all the time knowing they're going to box-and-one Malcolm to try to not let him score 30 every night," Reddick explained, "so we run plays to make sure we have movement and everybody steps up and gets involved in the game."
Reddick, already receiving plenty of Division I recruiting attention of his own, was more than happy to keep taking aim from the free-throw line.
So were his teammates, who crushed Althoff's comeback bid at the line by sinking 21-of-26 foul shots while improving to 16-2.
"Coach doesn't like us settling for jump shots," said Reddick, who averages 14 points per game. "We say just get to the rack. Either we're going to make up a layup or they're going to foul us, either one."
Althoff coach Greg Leib talked about how East opponents are forced to make scary choices when it comes to defense. The Crusaders used a box-and-one defense with extra help on Hill, an Illinois recruit who still scored 16 points.
"He's really good," Leib said of Reddick. "You've got to pick your poison. It's like working at the herpetarium or whatever. You're handling the black mamba, you're handling the cobra ... it's a tough job who you want to guard."
Althoff (9-7) trailed by 12 in the second quarter and was down 28-20 at halftime, but kept forcing things inside. A 12-4 run by the Crusaders brought them within two at 32-30 in the third quarter.
But each time Althoff drew close, the Lancers seemed able to put some distance between the teams again. And while East seemed to searching for intensity at times --perhaps still dealing with an exciting overtime win the night before against Belleville West --the Lancers had enough when it counted.
A 3-pointer by Althoff freshman Keenen Young cut the East lead to 44-42 early in the fourth quarter. The Crusaders were down 52-48 with 3:32 to play, but East sank 10 of 13 free throws in the fourth quarter to pull away.
"I guess we were fortunate to make free throws down at the end, which was big for us," East coach Abel Schrader said. "This was a tough game, Althoff did a nice job and they're a good team. It was a tough turnaround for us not only physically, but mentally. I give credit to Althoff, they played tough and they made runs at us."
Reddick collected 15 of his 25 points in the second half.
"I thought we did a very good job of being aware of where Malcolm was tonight," Leib said. "Reddick hit some shots and that's the difference in the ballgame."
Schrader has been stressing a team-oriented approach.
"We have other guys (besides Hill)," Schrader said. "Darreon has stepped up this whole season pretty much. He's been a pretty solid point guard running our team and when need be, he can really score and attack."
Althoff got 11 points apiece from Young and senior forward Erik Furmanek. Furmanek was a Class 2A all-state linebacker in football and the Belleville News-Democrat Small-School Player of the Year who recently committed to Division I Missouri State.
He used his large frame to bang away inside against the Lancers.
"We've got to keep hammering inside to 'Furm' and I thought he had his best game of the season tonight," said Leib, whose team had trouble finding much of a rhythm offensively.
Guards Ryan Marcum and Kevin Renner added 10 points each, but neither had much success from the outside.
In the first game Wednesday, Oakville held off McCluer 58-53 in a battle of two St. Louis County squads.
Contact reporter Norm Sanders at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2454.