Philip Gilbert had a very simple goal for his East St. Louis boys basketball team — avoid turnovers and control the ball.
The Flyers in fact were in control from start to finish.
Senior guard Kerion Chairs scored a career-high 21 points, Jeremiah Tilmon got his double-double and East St. Louis dominated the Alton Redbirds in a 76-36 Southwestern Conference win Tuesday.
“Kerion is one of those guys who wants to get the shooting machine out and get to work early in the morning — 6 in the morning, 5:30 in the morning — and again after practice. Tonight was his night, and he opened up a lot of things for us to have an overall team effort.”
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Chairs scored nine of his points on three 3-point baskets and wrapped up his evening with a highlight real alley-oop to Tilmon for a slam dunk. He picked up 10 points in the third quarter alone.
“I give all the props to Coach Gilbert. He wanted me to shoot, and I was just feeling it,” Chairs said. “They saw that I was hot, so they just kept giving it to me.
Alton was tied with East St. Louis at the top of the Southwestern Conference five days ago, but with four losses in a row has fallen to 7-6 overall and 4-3 in league play.
Without senior Maurice Edwards, an all-conference performer last season, the Redbirds have struggled with penetration to the basket, especially against the Flyers and the 6-foot-11 Tilmon, who had 13 rebounds and seven blocked shots to go with his 16 points.
Alton struggled similarly against a size-advantaged Belleville West team Friday night.
“Defensively, we’re just not real good,” said head coach Eric Smith. “We give up straight line drives to the basket whether they’re man or zone. Size doesn’t have a lot to do with that.”
East St. Louis, 11-6 overall, keeps pace with Edwardsville in conference play with a 5-1 league record. The Flyers next faces O’Fallon on Jan. 20. Alton faces Edwardsville on Friday.
Alton guard Ty’ohn Trimble answered a game-opening dunk by East Side’s Terrance Hargrove with a 3-pointer. It was the last time the Redbirds would have the lead.
East St. Louis went on a 21-3 run capped by Chairs’ first trey. The Redbirds’ 6-0 run in the second quarter were the last scores they would get consecutively.
The Flyers led 31-13 at the half, then opened the third quarter on an 11-4 run, highlighted by Tilmon’s jam and Chairs’ final shot of the night, another 3-pointer that put East St. Louis ahead 46-17.
Arthur Carter also reached double figures for the Flyers with 12 points. Travion Vickers had six points off the bench.
Alton was led by Trimble’s nine points. Senior Kevin Caldwell contributed eight points.