Belleville West left nothing to chance Tuesday in a 66-46 victory over struggling Collinsville in a Southwestern Conference game rescheduled from Jan. 13.
The Maroons (12-7, 6-3 SWC) built an overwhelming 19-point lead at halftime, then extended the margin to 30 points in the second half before clearing its bench.
“That was our main focus tonight,” Maroons senior Tyler Dancy said of the fast start. “Coach (Joe Muniz) wanted us to get (ahead) early, so it would be easier down the road and would prove we were the better team, that they can’t play with us.
“But they’re a good team. They’ve got good underclassmen.”
The Kahoks (7-15, 1-7), who lost for the ninth time in 10 games, had a freshman, sophomore and junior in its starting lineup. One other sophomore and two other freshmen also played significant minutes.
“Our big guys are freshmen,” Kahoks coach Darin Lee said of 6-foot-5 Keydrian Jones, a starter, and 6-5 Aaron Molton. “Who plays freshmen in the conference? We’re the only one playing them, I think. Maybe Granite City’s got one, and we’re trying to play three at different times. We have two freshman post players, and that’s a pretty tall order for those kids.”
West took over in the first quarter, building a 15-8 lead as Collinsville missed 14 of its 17 shots from the field.
The Maroons opened the second quarter with a 10-3 run that made it 25-11, then went up 36-17 at the intermission as sophomore EJ Liddell popped a long 3-pointer just ahead of the buzzer.
The lead swelled to 54-24 late in the third quarter.
“Our pressure hurt them,” said Muniz, whose team forced 12 turnovers. “We caused some turnovers, and they missed some shots. Our kids grinded it out, and I’ll be honest: Any win in this conference is a good win. Our kids played well and executed well.”
Eleven different players scored for West, led by Liddell with 15 points. Dancy and junior Will Matthews scored 10 points apiece. Matthews made two of the Maroons’ five 3-pointers.
Sophomore Marshall Harrison scored nine points and had two 3-pointers to lead Collinsville. No other Kahok scored more than six points.