After a narrow Southwestern Conference loss to East St. Louis on Friday, Belleville West couldn’t wait to get back on the court Saturday.
The Maroons made the most of their opportunity with an emotional 77-66 victory over host Althoff in a nonconference game.
“I’m really proud of the kids,” said West coach Joe Muniz, whose team improved to 15-8. “It was a tough loss (Friday) night. There were a lot of sick stomachs and upset kids. ... When you lose a tough game like we lost to East Side, it’s sometimes great to get on the court the next day to change how you feel.”
Althoff (14-9), coming off a 68-54 loss to Centralia on Friday, saw its losing streak reach four. The Crusaders played with more intensity, but were unable to contain the Maroons’ big men, 6-foot-7 senior Tyler Dancy and 6-7 sophomore EJ Liddell. Each scored 22 points.
“Belleville West earned the victory tonight,” Crusaders coach Greg Leib said. “They hit shots, and Joe had them ready to go. Effortwise, nobody can fault our guys. They went out there and brought it. If they continue to carry that on for the next two weeks, they’re going to be proud of who they are as a team when we get to the end of this thing.”
Althoff senior C.J. Coldon led all scorers with 31 points and made five 3-pointers. Senior Marvin Bateman had 12 points on four 3-pointers to surpass 1,000 points in his career. Coldon did his damage with a sore left ankle.
“Thirty-one points playing on one leg,” Leib said. “He flat-out got after it.”
Bateman entered the game with 995 career points and went over the 1,000-point mark with his second 3-pointer of the game, which came 1:32 to play in the first quarter.
“Marv’s had a great career. We’ve been blessed to have kids like Marv,” Leib said.
The Maroons built a 58-45 lead after three quarters, but Althoff climbed within 67-61 when Coldon drained a 3-pointer from the right corner with 3:12 to play.
Dancy then stepped up for the Maroons, converting a rebound basket and hitting a pair of free throws before Liddell scored in the paint to make it 73-61 with 1:10 left.
“Tyler Dancy had, down the stretch, every big rebound that we needed,” Muniz said. “He went up and got them. They had to go through him, over him, to try to get the offensive rebound. But he was able to snatch it. And our guys stepped up and made big free throws.”
The Maroons made all six of their fourth-quarter free throws. They made 11 of 14 free throws overall.
The Maroons got nice support from senior DeAndre Jackson (12 points), senior Ian Parker (nine points) and junior Will Matthews (eight points). Jackson and Matthews had two 3-pointers apiece, and Parker made a big 3-pointer late in the third quarter.
“We knew they were going to focus mostly on Tyler and EJ and let the other guys get their shots,” Muniz said. “Tonight, they were comfortable with shooting it and looked to shoot it.”
Senior Edwyn Brown chipped in with nine points for Althoff.
West finished with 15 turnovers, while the Crusaders had 13.
The Maroons’ bench outscored Althoff’s 19-0.