Defense has almost always been a strong suit of Edwardsville during Mike Waldo’s long tenure as boys basketball coach.
It looks like that will not be any different for the 2017-18 Tigers.
Leading 10-9 after the opening quarter, Edwardsville held Belleville East to a single basket over the first 7:02 of the second quarter to take control of what would turn out to be a 54-38 Southwestern Conference road win.
The Tigers forced the Lancers into six turnovers during that span — three consecutive to open the quarter and another three in a row around the midway point of the period — as they turned a one-point edge into a 25-11 chasm.
Edwardsville (4-1, 1-1 SWC) would not let its lead shrink below 12 the remainder of the night.
“I thought we did a good job in that defense,” said Waldo of the zone his team implement to start the second period. “Our guys communicated well. I thought Jaylon Tuggle did a real good job on defense.
“Our defensive rebounding was much better than what we saw against Belleville West.”
After giving up 22 offensive rebounds in a 67-43 loss to Belleville West on Saturday at a four-game SWC showcase at SIUE, Edwardsville allowed East to grab just five rebounds on the offensive end.
East scored just two points on its first 11 possessions of the second quarter.
The Lancers managed to score eight points in the final 58 seconds of the second quarter to trail 29-19 at the break. But that was not enough to make up for the fact that East scored on just one of its first 11 possessions of the period.
“We got really passive against their zone,” said first-year East coach Jeff Creek, whose team fell to 3-3 and 0-2 in SWC play. “We just made a lot of unforced turnovers. We did not shoot the ball very well either.”
Senior guard Jack Marinko tallied seven of Edwardsville’s 19 second-quarter points and led all scorers with 22 for the game.
A starter but not a marquee player on last season’s 30-2 team that included All-State selections Mark Smith and A.J. Epenesa, Marinko has topped the Tigers in scoring in all four of their games and has yet to have a contest where he’s scored fewer than 21.
The senior made 7 of his 12 shots against the Lancers, including 4 of 6 from beyond the arc.
“This year, I’ve been more of a ball-handler,” said Marinko, “Just try to get us a bucket when we need it. I am also more of a leader. I tell people where to go. I’m more of an all-around player.”
Despite foul trouble, Caleb Strohmeier still finished with 10 points. Tuggle led Edwardsville on the boards with eight rebounds.
Jordan Yates paced East with 13 points. Jaylen Lacey was next with 10.
“This was kind of a step back, but we just have to go back to work tomorrow and get ready for Belleville West,” said Creek. “A lot of times it’s the mental aspect of things. It can take some times to get used to varsity basketball.”
Both teams have SWC games Friday, when Edwardsville will host Collinsville and East also is at home against city rival Belleville West.