Boys Basketball

Flyers defeat East after emotional week with coach suspended

Completing an emotional week in which they had their coach suspended and a night in which their highly-touted sophomore center was not in uniform, the East St. Louis Flyers did what they do best Friday. They put their high-powered offense on display.

Little-known Treyvian Crogier and Javion Weathers highlighted a 16-2 run midway through the second quarter as East St. Louis broke the game open and went on for a 96-66 win over Belleville East in a Southwestern Conference game at East St. Louis High School.

With interim coach Hank Harris going to his bench early and often, the Flyers (14-5,9-0) shook off the much-improved Lancers doing what they do best in getting their tranisition offense going. The Flyers used a pair of thunderous dunks by Crogier and a pair of 3-point baskets each from Weathers and Antony Johnson as they turned a 17-13 lead after one quarter into a game in which they were in complete control of with a 43-25 cushion at halftme.

Belleville East (8-12, 2-7) would get no closer than 16 points the rest of the night.

“I was at work when I got the call about the job,” Harris said. “I thought we responded well tonight. It’s been a tough week for these kids and so for them to come out and play like this, I’m very pleased.

“They have responded to me very well in practice and done everything we’ve asked of them. It’s a bunch of great kids.”

Harris took over the Flyers head coaching duties earlier this week from Tony Young, who was placed on paid administrative leave while East St. Louis District 189 investigates an alleged locker room recording during which Young cursed liberally and at one point encouraged one of his players to hurt an opposing player.

Young was certainly in the hearts and minds of his players who wore warm-up T-shirts with a picture of Young on the front and “#TeamYoung” printed on the back.

Young couldn’t be reached for comment Friday night.

“I don’t have anything to do with that,” Harris said when asked about Young. “I just want to coach basketball.”

Led by Crogier, Weathers and Antony Johnson, the Flyers played like they were on a mission. With Tyrone Riley and Patrick Baxter doing the job on the backboards and 10 players scoring at least one basket in the first two quarters, East St. Louis was in cruise control.

But the key was the Flyers reserves in the second quarter. Crogier, Weathers and Aaron Hill combined for 17 of the Flyers 26 second period points.

“I am a new coach and I really had no pre-conceived idea on what these kids could do. All I had was the last two days of practice to get an idea and the kids have come in and worked hard,” Harris said. “You saw how I want I want us to play. I like the up-tempo style and when you do that it helps when you can play a lot of kids.”

Harris, an East St. Louis native, has been an assistant coach at South Carolina. He also has coached at Seward County Community College in Liberal, Kan., and at Highland Park High School in Topeka, Kan.

Harris also is credited with resurrecting the program at Labette Community College in Parsons, Kan., after a 20-year period of dormancy. Harris’ experience includes time as an assistant at Kansas State, Western Kentucky and Eastern Illinois.

One East St. Louis player who wasn’t in the game was sophomore sensation Jeremiah Tilmon. One of Young’s strongest supporters and rated as one of the top sophomores in the nation, Tilmon was not in uniform on Friday.

Harris didn’t have much to say when asked about the 6-11 Tilmon.

“He is not suspended. Jeremiah was gone tonight,” Harris said. “He will be back for our next game.”

Antony Johnson, who connected for six 3-point field goals and scored 22 points led the way for East St. Louis. Antonio Johnson added 17 points, while Baxter and Crogier chipped in with 11 points each.

EnRico Sylvester led East with 17 points while Javon Pickett added 16 points.