East St. Louis junior guard Zachery Forest had his shooting touch Friday at Alton High School — and the Flyers had all the answers.
Forest connected on two of his four 3-point field goals to highlight a 16-0 Flyers scoring run late in the second quarter, and East St. Louis never looked back as it defeated Alton 69-52 in a Southwestern Conference game.
With 6-foot-11 University of Illinois recruit Jeremiah Tilmon spending considerable time on the bench in the first half after picking up two quick fouls in the opening 3:30, Alton (4-2, 2-1) led by as many as eight points and held a 23-17 advantage before the Flyers (5-2, 3-0) went to work in the late second quarter.
Tilmon, who scored eight points before fouling out with 6:47 left in the game, started the scoring run with an offensive putback. Reyondous Estes and Arthur Carter added short jumpers to tie game at 23 before Forest hit consecutive 3-point shots, both from the baseline, to give East St. Louis a 29-23 lead.
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Estes and Carter, both of whom finished with 14 points, concluded the scoring run as East St. Louis took a 33-25 halftime lead.
“We started off a little slow with Jeremiah (Tilmon) picking up a couple of quick fouls, but the kids kept battling until we were able to hit some shots,” Flyers coach Phillip Gilbert said. “Zachery (Forest) did what we talk about all the time, he picked up his teammates and played very well tonight.”
After getting a pair of 3-point baskets from Darrell Smith, Alton looked sharp early. Displaying their up-tempo offense, the Redbirds led 16-8 late in the first quarter, and with Tilmon on the bench with two fouls, the Flyers appeared to be in trouble.
“It seemed like we threw the first punch tonight, but tonight East St. Louis kept fighting back,” Alton coach Eric Smith said. “They hit the shots, got every loose ball and rebound and just did everything right during that stretch there.
“I still though we were in good shape until we came out and didn’t make good decisions on shot selection in the early part of the third quarter.”
Tilmon scored four points early in the third quarter as the Flyers expanded their lead to as many as 14 points. But Tilmon then picked up two fouls in a minute and went to the bench for the remainder of the quarter.
Gilbert, like Tilmon, seemed a little frustrated with some of the calls on his center.
“The kid is 6-11 and 257 pounds, and he’s trying so hard not to foul. All we ask is that you give the kid a chance.” Gilbert said.
Forest led all scorers with 19 points, while Carter and Estes added 14 each. Senior Dereaun Clay led Alton with 16 points.