Belleville West was unresponsive coming out of the gate Friday night, and the East St. Louis Flyers made the Maroons pay.
Junior Arthur Carter scored 16 points and senior Kenny Roberson added 14 as East Side built a huge lead in the first half en route to a 70-55 win in a Southwestern Conference contest.
The Flyers (10-12 overall, 6-5 SWC) forced 22 turnovers, 15 in the first half, and limited 6-foot-7 West junior Tyler Dancy to three first-half points. With Dancy struggling early, East Side led 33-17 at halftime.
By watching how we played, we weren’t ready to play. Being up 5-0, I don’t know if all of a sudden that changed our focus. But we came out with not a whole lot of energy. Things we didn’t want them to do, they were able to do very easily.
Belleville West coach Joe Muniz
“Dancy is a load down there,” East St. Louis coach Phillip Gilbert said. “He takes up angles real well. He knows how to use his body. I don’t care if you’ve got a 6-10 (kid) down there. If he gets an angle on you, he’s going to score or get to the free-throw line. Our guys tried their best to minimize what he does well, and fortunately it went out way.”
Dancy finished with a game-high 21 points on 6-for-10 shooting from the field, but the 276-pounder had to work hard as he was often double-teamed in the low post by the smaller Flyers. Nine of Dancy’s points came from the free-throw line.
Freshman E.J. Liddell scored 18 points for the Maroons before fouling out with 3:29 to play. West got a combined six points from its other three starters.
Maroons coach Joe Muniz was disappointed by his team’s slow start. After West (10-12, 4-7) built a 5-0 lead in the first four seconds of the game, thanks in part to a technical foul on the Flyers before the tipoff, East Side outscored it 34-12 in the first half.
“By watching how we played, we weren’t ready to play,” Muniz said. “Being up 5-0, I don’t know if all of a sudden that changed our focus. But we came out with not a whole lot of energy. Things we didn’t want them to do, they were able to do very easily. We didn’t guard worth a hoot in the first half. We didn’t guard, period, the whole game.”
West played about even with the Flyers in the third quarter, but was still outscored 15-13 as its deficit swelled to 18 points at 48-30.
But Liddell sandwiched a pair of 3-pointers around two free throws by Dancy, and suddenly the Maroons were within 52-44 with 5:10 to play in the game.
The guys paid attention to detail. We had a scouting report and they executed it. They executed it when it mattered. We put all the personal things aside ... and did what we were supposed to do. It paid off tremendously.
East St. Louis coach Phillip Gilbert
After Roberson scored, Dancy canned two free throws and it was 54-46 at the 3:57 mark. That was the end of the Maroons’ comeback hopes, however. The Flyers recovered with an 8-1 run that came entirely on free throws, taking a 62-47 lead with 1:46 to play.
“The guys paid attention to detail,” Gilbert said of the runaway victory. “We had a scouting report and they executed it. They executed it when it mattered. We put all the personal things aside ... and did what we were supposed to do. It paid off tremendously.”
The 6-2 Carter scored 14 of his 16 points in the first half to spark East Side. West had better success against Carter in the second half, but the damage was done when Carter went 5-for-7 in the first half.
“Arthur is pretty crisp,” Gilbert said. “When he’s locked in on all cylinders, he can be a force to be reckoned with. He’s young and he’s learning. He’s one of the first ones in practice and one of the last ones to leave every day. He listens and calls me for advice. I give him tremendous respect for what he’s doing for his future. He played well tonight.”
Muniz complimented Carter for the havoc he created.
“The first half, Arthur Carter could get to the basket any time he wanted, and if he didn’t make the shot, they got the rebound and put it in,” Muniz said. “I was very disappointed with our effort tonight.
“I guess you’ve got to give credit to East St. Louis. But it wasn’t exactly what they did to us, it’s what we did to ourselves. We had a hard time just catching the basketball tonight. We came here and had a bad one.”