Granite City threw a little bit of everything at the Alton Redbirds on Saturday, and the Redbirds had no difficulty coming up with answers.
The Warriors were hammered by Alton, 71-45, in the kickoff game of the Southwestern Conference’s inaugural “SWC at the E” event at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.
“We tried to do some different things on them,” said first-year Granite City coach Raffi Karibian.“You saw us, we played some 1-3-1, we played some 2-3, we played triangle-and-two ... we threw a lot at them for early in the season.”
Alton (3-1) led 37-20 at halftime and shook off a rough third quarter by using offensive balance and quickness that helped force 16 turnovers.
Senior guard Damion Reid tossed in three straight 3-pointers during the second quarter, coming off the bench to lead Alton in scoring with 13 points. Junior guard Kevin Caldwell contributed 12 points, Ty’ohn Trimble had 10 and Maurice Edwards added eight.
“I was excited, our kids were excited — maybe a little too excited at the beginning of the game because we got in a hole,” Karibian said. “Every mistake’s a layup for them, and that’s a tough way to play basketball.”
Senior Torry Deal led the Warriors with 13 points, while freshman Freddy Edwards, a bright light on the football field for Granite City this season, scored seven points.
Granite City (0-5) had one good run during the third quarter that trimmed the Redbirds’ lead back to 10 points before Alton ran away again.
“I don’t know if anybody ever had so little varsity experience coming back like we have,” Karibian said. “We’ve got guys out there that had trouble finding the ‘x’ to check in tonight. It’s a different world for them.”
Karibian is a former women’s basketball assistant at Missouri-St. Louis. He made his varsity high school head coaching debut Saturday in the same Vadalabene Center where he coached his first college game.
“I think it’s fabulous,” he said of showcasing the league’s eight teams in a one-day showcase at SIUE, “ It’s a great opportunity for kids to get to play on a college court. I remember my first game as a college coach as an assistant on the women’s (basketball) staff at UMSL was right here at SIU in an exhibition game.
“We sat on the same bench. I was excited about that and I was excited about being here today.”