EAST ST. LOUIS — While missed free throws eventually led to defeat for the East St. Louis Flyers on Friday, coach Tony Young said a lot more than that contributed to a 51-50 loss to Madison College Prep of St. Louis.
"The biggest thing for us is there's just too many mistakes," said Young, whose team fell to 10-4 after hitting just 12-of-25 free throws. "Too many unforced errors, unforced turnovers, missed layups, missed free throws ... if you execute and take care of the simple things, you win this game easy."
Even with all that, the Flyers still had a chance to win after senior guard Justin Smith was fouled on a 3-point attempt with 1.2 seconds remaining and his team down 51-49.
Smith hit the first shot before Madison Prep coach Tony Irons called a timeout.
"Honestly, I was hoping he would miss the first one to put a little pressure on him," Irons said. "But he knocked the first one down too comfortably so we called it to make him think about it a little bit -- and it worked."
Smith missed the second foul shot and the third and the Flyers couldn't corral the rebound.
"You get exactly what you want at the end of the game, you've got a play with your senior on the line to win the game and miss two free throws," Young said. "We were horrible at the free-throw line today. When you don't even shoot 50 percent from the free-throw line, that kills you."
Madison Prep (11-2) got what proved to be the game-winning shot with 23.3 seconds remaining from freshman guard Daniel Farris, who tied Anthony Lee for the team-scoring lead with 14 points.
Farris drove the lane hard and was fouled, but still made the shot.
"When it gets close to January he's not a freshman any more," Irons said. "He's been through some battles. He's maturing and honestly he's stepped up when we needed him to step up."
The Flyers trailed by 10 in the fourth quarter to the top-ranked small school in St. Louis, but led briefly and then fought back to tie it 49-49 on Darrion Beane's free throw with 59.5 seconds remaining.
Beane led the Flyers with 15 points and Terry Beckner, Jr., added 11.
The Flyers fell behind early and trailed 26-20 at halftime and 39-35 after three quarters, but battled back hard each time to push the Bears.
Beckner scored eight of his 11 points in the second half.
"Kudos to them, they fought on the inside and they pressured our guards," Young said. "They did a great job tonight playing this game the right way."
Irons, the son of longtime Vashon coach Floyd Irons, knew bringing his defending Class 3 Missouri state championship team to East St. Louis would result in some great competition.
Madison Prep's only two losses this season were to Champaign Central and Cahokia at the Centralia Holiday Tournament.
"We knew coming in it was going to be a tough, hard-fought battle and that's one of the reasons why we wanted to come over here," Irons said. "It gives us an opportunity to play against a real talented team and a physical team."
Mount Vernon 69, Althoff 62
Althoff freshman Jordan Goodwin scored 25 points and it still wasn't enough as the Crusaders (8-4) lost to Mount Vernon in a South Seven Conference game.
Brendon Gooch added 14 points for Althoff and Kevin Reynolds had nine. Mount Vernon got 18 points from Brandon Fitzjerrells and 15 from Shakari Hawkins.