When Jaylin Mosby springs off the bench for Belleville West, he doesn’t need much time to get acclimated.
Mosby, a 6-foot-2 junior, scored 14 of his 18 points and made four 3-pointers in the first half Friday to kickstart the Maroons’ 82-53 victory over Edwardsville.
“I’ve been feeling it in practice more and more,” Mosby said of his shooting touch, which helped him go 7 of 11 from the field. “I feel comfortable. It feels nice. I had the same mindset last year when I played JV. I played really well off the bench.”
West, shooting for its first Southwestern Conference championship in 14 years, won for the 15th time in 16 games to improve to 18-2 and 8-0. Edwardsville is 12-7 and 5-3. The Maroons, who have six league games remaining, have a 2 1/2-game lead over second-place Alton.
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The Maroons led just 25-20 with 3:44 to play in the second quarter, but the margin swelled to 38-26 at halftime before West used a 16-2 run to take a 64-36 lead after three quarters.
“We got into a rhythm,” Maroons coach Joe Muniz said. “The biggest thing is we turned them over a couple of times, they missed some shots and we got some runouts.
“And Jaylin Mosby. What can you say? He opened it up for us.”
Senior EJ Liddell had 16 points and five blocked shots as the Tigers employed a box-and-one defense with Edwardsville senior Caleb Strohmeier guarding Liddell. Junior Keith Randolph Jr. added 14 points, while senior Malachi Smith chipped in with 11. Junior Lawrence Brazill III scored nine points on three 3-pointers.
The Tigers got a game-high 28 points and six 3-pointers from senior Jack Marinko. The 6-7 Strohmeier, who was called for his fourth foul with 3:41 to play in the third quarter, finished with 15 points. It was Edwardsville’s most lopsided loss of the season.
Muniz told his team that Edwardsville would emphasize stopping Liddell and Smith.
“But they couldn’t take away our whole team,” Muniz said. “We’ve just got too many good players.”
Mosby has been stepping up to stretch West’s depth chart. His 23 3-pointers, three of which came in the second quarter against Edwardsville, rank second on the team.
“We moved him to the bench in the Centralia Tournament and he’s been lights-out ever since,” Muniz said. “I don’t know if he feels more comfortable coming off the bench, but he’s given us so much better production coming off the bench. Offensively, he may be our third-best scorer (behind Liddell and Smith). ... He’s an excellent scorer.”
Tigers coach Mike Waldo was impressed.
“West has done good this year,” he said. “They’re well-coached, they’ve got good players. They do a really good job. The first half, we executed defensively a lot of things we wanted to do. (Mosby) really hurt us in the first half. We knew we had to give up some things to try to defend them. He got shots and he made them.”
Marinko, as usual, was everywhere for Edwardsville and finished 10 of 27 from the field. But he didn’t have the necessary support.
“He did a great job getting his points tonight,” Muniz said. “He’s a great player. He’s a special kid. He never gives up, and if you give him an inch, he’s going to take it.”
Marinko’s 3-pointer made it 25-20 in the second quarter, but Edwardsville got no closer.
“The first half, I thought we battled and were right there with them,” Marinko said. “The third quarter, we got in foul trouble (with Strohmeier), and they were just dominating us in the post. That’s when they got ahead of us by a lot. We fell apart.”