Alton senior Kevin Caldwell scored eight of his 17 points in the first quarter Saturday as the Redbirds led from start to finish in an 85-44 win over Granite City in the SWC @ the E opener at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville’s Vadalabene Center.
Fresh off a runner-up finish at its own tournament a week ago, the Redbirds (4-1) were in top form from the outset. With Caldwell slicing up the Warriors defense and junior Donovan Clay connecting on a pair of 3-pointers, Alton built a 22-15 lead after one quarter and increased its advantage to 41-25 at halftime.
Granite City (1-4, 0-1)) would get no closer than 16 points in the second half. Showing its depth, Alton had 12 players score at least two points as it continued to add to its lead in the final two quarters.
“Our kids are unselfish, and I think you saw that today,” Alton coach Eric Smith said. “We did a good of moving the basketball and got good shots for the most part. We need to do a better job in areas on the defensive end. But it was a good effort today.”
Juniors Jerry Watson and Emmitt Gordon scored 13 and 12 points, respectively, for Granite City. The Warriors, starting four juniors, played well in the first quarter. But Alton, which finished with 10 3-pointers, had too much offense for Granite City to overcome.
“The kids were ready to play, but I think when Alton came out playing and shooting the basketball so well, I think we lost our momentum,” first-year Warriors coach Gerard Moore said. “We are playing a lot of young kids, and this was their first time playing in this type of big-game situation.
“It was a learning experience. We’ll get back at it on Monday and keep working. We will get better as time goes on.”