BELLEVILLE — East St. Louis played with a sense of loss Friday night, but its winning streak remained intact.
Senior Johnny McCray scored 20 points and four other Flyers reached double figures in a 71-60 victory over Belleville West.
The win was the 12th in a row for East Side, and it came just hours after the team learned that its first-year trainer, Sherman Griffin, had died of a heart attack.
"We all were pretty emotional about it," Flyers coach Tony Young said. "We came here with a heavy heart. A piece of our family's not here anymore. At the end of the day, there's nothing we can do about it. It's part of life. Everybody has to die one day.
"But the reality of it is he was a huge part of this family. He will be missed."
Senior Michael Scott added 11 points for the Flyers, who improved to 16-6 overall and 8-3 in the Southwestern Conference. Seniors Deshawn Munson and Travon McCray and junior Darrion Beane scored 10 points apiece.
East Side shot 58 percent (29-for-50), including 16-for-25 in the second half. West shot 49 percent (22-for-45).
The Flyers led just 29-26 at halftime, but ran away in the third quarter when they outscored the Maroons 26-14.
"We had exactly what we wanted going into halftime," said West coach Joe Muniz, whose team dropped to 14-8 and 6-5 in the SWC. "It's one of those situations where you kind of wish halftime didn't occur. I really liked how we were playing.
"They're a good team. They're so much bigger, stronger, more athletic than we are. And they are deep."
Hurting West's upset bid was the first-quarter loss of 6-foot-3 senior Markkies Goodwin.
Goodwin limped off the court with 5:50 to play in the period after suffering what he believes is a broken right ankle. Goodwin was on crutches after the game and said he was en route to get an X-ray.
With Goodwin sidelined, the 6-4, 260-pound Johnny McCray busted loose in the paint as the Maroons were forced to use less-experienced players like juniors Cole Henke and Brian Hill.
McCray, coming off a career-high 30-point outburst last Friday in a win over Belleville East, was 7-for-10 from the field and 6-for-8 from the free-throw line against the Maroons.
"I've got my confidence up," said McCray, who turned several nifty passes by Munson into easy layups. "I just come out and play hard and try to win the game for my team."
Young said McCray's progress has been remarkable.
"Johnny's a huge factor for us," Young said. "I've said it all the time: You've got to be able to go inside-out. Any time he's a factor and you've got to worry about him down there ... it always opens everything up for the guards.
"He's bought into it. It's his senior season. So have my other seniors."
The Maroons, who lost for the fourth time in five games, were led by senior Nick Van Osdale's 23 points. Van Osdale reached the 1,000-point mark in his career when he sank a 3-pointer late in the second quarter.
Senior Donnie Foster chipped in with 12 points for the Maroons and junior Kyle Sweeney had nine.
The Flyers quickly added to their three-point halftime lead in the opening minutes of the third quarter, hitting the Maroons with a 14-5 run that gave them a 44-31 advantage.
The drive featured a 3-pointer by Travon McCray, a dunk by Munson and three free throws by McCray after he was fouled while shooting a 3-pointer.
East St. Louis led 55-40 after three quarters and maintained a double-digit lead throughout the fourth period.
"We came out and we were all right," Young said. "I don't think we were as intense as we needed to be. It wasn't as intense as we've been. But we picked it up in the second half and were able to pull away."