Edwardsville is unbeaten but the Tigers have not played much recently.
O'Fallon (9-7) is the next area team with a chance to derail unbeaten and top-ranked Southwestern Conference rival Edwardsville (12-0, 4-0). The Tigers travel to O'Fallon on Tuesday to play their first game since Dec. 28, a championship game win over Madison at the Carbondale Holiday Tournament.
"We hope that plays into our favor a little bit," said O'Fallon coach Rick Gibson, whose team lost 68-63 to Jackson (Mo.) on Saturday in the championship game of the Lindbergh Tournament. "On the other side, it's given them quite a bit of time to prepare and practice and fine-tune some things and we haven't had that luxury."
Unbeaten Jackson had size to spare with a 6-7 forward and two 6-8 players.
"We hadn't played a team with that much size," Gibson said. "We got behind early and struggled offensively against them. Our kids battled back hard and made a game of it down the stretch."
O'Fallon's Donovan Franklin and Darien McClain each made the all-tournament team, while Gibson said sophomore Chance Armstrong averaged more than 20 points in the three games.
Edwardsville can score inside and out and the offensive steering wheel is in the capable hands of senior Division I point guard prospect Shawn Roundtree (17.3 points, 8.5 assists per game).
"It all starts with Roundtree, he's been good for the last couple years," Gibson said. "When the ball's in his hands, you're not getting it back."
The Tigers' top scorer is 6-5 senior Southern Illinois University Carbondale recruit Armon Fletcher (19 points and 14 rebounds per game).
"Fletcher came on last year and he's continued that growth and does a great job for them," Gibson said. "The transfer (Division I guard prospect Trevor Clay) give them another weapon in shooting from the perimeter."
O'Fallon lost to Edwardsville three times last season, including once in overtime and once in the sectional.
Madison back in action
Despite not playing a game since Dec. 28, the Madison Trojans find themselves the top-ranked small school in the Belleville News-Democrat's high school basketball rankings.
The Trojans (8-2) had three games postponed because of the snowy weather last week and return to action Tuesday with a road game against second-ranked Mater Dei.
Ranked third in the Class 1A state poll, Madison has not played since losing 65-48 to Class 4A sixth-ranked Edwardsville (12-0) in the championship game of the Carbondale Holiday Tournament.
"There's areas where we need some work, but I think this team is as good as any team I've had here," said Madison coach Jaime Cotto, whose team finished second in the state last season during the Trojans' second state tourney trip in four years. "I'm very excited because one of the things I was worried about was them gelling with the two transfers and some inexperience.
Junior guard Daymon "Rocky" Warren transferred from Lovejoy and has averaged eight points and eight assists. Warren was a first-team all-tournament selection at Carbondale. Six-foot-six senior forward Deontay Starnes, averaging 14 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks as a returning starter, made the second-team all-tourney squad.
The Trojans knocked off eventual consolation champ Chicago Collins, Murphysboro and St. Mary's from Paducah, Ky., on the way to the title game.
"I was really proud of what we did down there," Cotto said. "That's a really good tournament."
Madison senior guard Darrian Crawford averages 10 points and is one of the team's top outside threats while senior guard and returning starter Tyvon Powers averages nine points.
Junior Terrence Glover, a transfer from Granite City, averages 12 points and eight rebounds.
Playing one of the toughest schedules in the metro-east, Madison's season includes games against 4A Edwardsville, defending Class 3 Missouri state champ Madison College Prep and 3A Marquette, Highland and Jerseyville.
They also played state-ranked small schools Gibault and Teutopolis and on Saturday travel to Mounds Meridian to play the state's second-ranked Class 1A squad. On Feb. 8 is a date with Payson Seymour, ranked No. 1 in 1A, at the Quincy Notre Dame Shootout.
"Even last year when we finished second we had 11 losses for the year," Cotto said. "Especially with us being independent, if you just made an all-1A schedule and win every game by 20 points, I don't see how you get better. I think our schedule definitely prepares us for the postseason.
"We always end the year playing T-Town and I don't think anybody you see in the regional is going to be as good as T-Town."