Boys Basketball

Belleville West boys now 1 win away from perfect conference record

Juniors Lawrence Brazil III and EJ Liddell led a balanced attack with 17 points each Tuesday as Belleville West moved a win away from clinching a perfect Southwestern Conference season with an 82-55 victory over Alton.

With Brazil and Liddell combining for 1 1 points, the Maroons (24-2, 13-0) took a 25-14 lead after one quarter. The Redbirds (14-11, 8-5), getting a combined 39 points from Malik Smith and Kevin Caldwell, closed the gap to 38-30 at halftime, but West responded with a 20-6 surge to start the second half and put the game away.

With Brazil connecting on a pair of 3-point shots and 6-foot-5 junior Keith Randolph scoring twice on a pair of strong low-post moves, the Maroons took a 58-36 lead with a little more than four minutes remaining in the third quarter.

Alton would get no closer than 16 points the rest of the way.

The Maroons can wrap up an undefeated SWC campaign when when they play host to Granite City on Friday in their regular-season finale.

West coach Joe Muniz said finishing undefeated in the conference is "very important" to him and his team.

"You are talking about an accomplishment that doesn't happen very much in this league," he said. "So you bet it's important to us."

Alton, which has lost its three meetings against the Maroons this season by a combined 71 points, was in trouble from the outset.

With Liddell scoring three early baskets and Brazil and Malachi Smith combining for nine points, West jumped out to a big lead.

"I thought both Lawrence and Malachi played great tonight. But we got excellent contributions from several players," Muniz said. "I thought we shared the basketball very well, and the players threw some great passes on the baseline for some wide-open shots.

"I challenged the kids at halftime, and I thought we responded very well in the third quarter."

Smith added 15 points, while Randolph contributed nine points and 10 rebounds for the Maroons, who had nine players break into the scoring column.

Malik Smith led Alton with 24 points, while Caldwell chipped in 15.