Edwardsville puts five in double figures, defeats Belleville West

News-DemocratFebruary 1, 2014 

Edwardsville senior Darius Crochrell reflects on the Tigers' 69-59 triumph over Belleville West on Friday.

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— Placing all five starters in double figures was a formula for success for Edwardsville on Friday.

Seniors Darius Crochrell (18 points), Darian Brown (14), Trevor Clay (13) and Shawn Roundtree and Armon Fletcher (11 apiece) did the damage as the Tigers held off Belleville West 69-59.

"We've been emphasizing all of our starters contributing big points," the 6-foot-1 Crochrell said. "Everyone reached double figures, which is huge for us. It's always a big accomplishment. I wouldn't say it's a goal. The real goal is just to win."

The Tigers have been doing plenty of that this season. The Southwestern Conference triumph over the Maroons elevated their record to 17-1 overall and 6-1 in the league.

Edwardsville coach Mike Waldo complimented Crochrell, who was 6-for-8 from the field and 6-for-7 from the free-throw line.

"Darius had a tremendous game," Waldo said. "Darius is smart, he's an athlete and he's a winner. I'd want him on any team I've ever had, I'll tell you that."

West, which trailed 29-20 at halftime and 40-20 early in the third quarter before making a contest of it, slipped to 4-14 and 2-7. The Maroons were led by freshman Tyler Dancy (18 points) and seniors Steven Roberts (13) and Cade Dibadj (nine).

After falling behind by 20 with 5:49 left in the third quarter, the Maroons twice trimmed their deficit to seven in the period. Edwardsville re-established a 16-point gap in the fourth quarter, only to see West get within eight on five occasions.

The Tigers stayed in control by making free throws. They were 15-for-17 from the line in the fourth quarter, with Brown going 6-for-6.

"Belleville West is hard to play against," Waldo said. "They had a big win Tuesday (58-51 over visiting Belleville East) and they played well in that game. They've made some adjustments, and I think you have to credit their players and their coaching staff.

"Our guys did a really good job executing a lot of things. Offensively, we did a good job of passing the ball and getting some wide-open looks. Darian Brown had an excellent game against 35 (West junior Eugene Jones). He did a good job limiting him."

Jones, a 6-4 junior who leads West in scoring at 9.6 points per outing, finished with two points on 1-for-2 shooting.

West coach Joe Muniz continued to see improvement, and a bright light of late has been the play of the 6-5, 240-pound Dancy.

Dancy's start against Edwardsville was his second in a row, and he responded by going 7-for-9 from the field.

"They didn't have anybody that could stop Tyler," Muniz said. "We just need to get the ball into him a little bit more than what we did. He's doing well. We've got to do a better job of seeing him more often. He's got good hands, good touch. He does a lot of nice things."

Waldo said Dancy gives West a different dimension.

"Him in the low post makes them a hard team to play against," Waldo said. "They've done a good job adjusting what they do to utilize him. They've got good coaches at West. The kids down here are fortunate they've got those guys."

Crochrell wasn't surprised to see West rally. The Tigers also held a sizable lead over the Maroons in the teams' first meeting Dec. 13 in Edwardsville before settling for a 53-45 victory.

"They're real scrappy," Crochrell said. "It's always a good game when we come here. We expected them to come out and play good defense and run some good offense, and they did exactly what we expected, so it was a good game."

Muniz has been impressed all season with his team's effort.

"There's no quit in these kids," Muniz said. "We were in the same position at their place. ... I'll be honest: It took Edwardsville to play pretty much a perfect second half (to beat us). The last 19 minutes of the game, they had to play about as perfect as they could play to come away with a win here."

Edwardsville shot 62 percent from the field (21-for-34), including 67 percent in the second half (10-for-15). The Tigers made 20 of their 23 attempts from the free-throw line. West shot 43 percent (20-for-46) and was 14-for-16 from the line.

Contact reporter David Wilhelm at dwilhelm@bnd.com or 239-2665.

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