What to watch for in the metro-east high school sports scene this week:
Coach Joe Muniz and his Belleville West Maroons are among the last teams in the metro-east to open their 2015-16 basketball seasons. They'll do so as the No. 5 seed in the seven-team St. John Vianney Tournament this week. Game one is at 3:30 p.m. Monday against No. 4 Ladue. Muniz lost his top scorer and rebounder, but welcomes back a solid core of junior players, including 6-foot-6, 285-pound Tyler Dancy. The Maroons also have a much deeper roster than last season's edition, which finished 9-19. Among their starters will be 6-7 freshman E.J. Liddell.
South Seven Shootout
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Head coach Greg Leib and the Althoff Crusaders started their basketball season with nine members of the 14-man roster still committed to a run at the 4A state fooball championship. That included four starters. Some key bench pieces and some junior varsity editions gave the Crusaders a 2-1 start before the starters returned Saturday for a victory over Edwardsville. The intact team will get six days to rest before its frist South Seven Conference test Friday at Carbondale. The Terriers have been dominant in their 4-0 sweep of Waterloo's Battling Bulldog Tournament. The two teams last met in a Class 3A sectional tournament championship game last season. Althoff got past Carbondale, 77-72.
The collapse of the St. Louis Rams continues. They've lost four in a row now with their 31-7 humiliation in Cincinnati Sunday. The Rams are 4-7 and can ill-afford to lose any of their final five games if they harbor any hopes to reach the playoffs. Based on their performance earlier in the season, that won't be an impossible task. St. Louis has three straight games at home, first against the NFC West-leading Arizona Cardinals Sunday at noon. The Rams already have defeated the Cardinals this season, dropping them 24-22 in Week 4. With a win Sunday, the quest will continue against the Detoit Lions (4-7) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-6). Then they'll close on the road Dec. 27 at Seattle, loser to the Rams in Week 1, and San Francisco (3-7).