Alton coach Eric Smith has a philosophy of trying to never criticize a member of his team for poor shot selection.
On Friday night at Belleville West High School, Smith didn’t have to worry.
Senior Marcus Latham and junior Maurice Edwards combined for eight 3-point baskets and 48 points as Alton kept Belleville West on the skids with a 75-58 win in a Southwestern Conference game.
With West junior Tyler Dancy and freshman E.J. Liddell dominating in the post, the game featured two teams with conflicting styles as Alton (8-5, 5-1) took a 36-29 lead at halftime. But when the Redbirds turned up the pressure in the second half, West (4-9, 1-5) wilted just a bit.
Of the Maroons’ 20 turnovers, 12 came in the final two quarters.
“Whether we score or not we want to get up and down the floor. I thought we did a better job of that in the second half when we were able to get the transition game going. We were able to get some easy baskets,’’ Smith said.
“We also got some good looks in the first half, because we were able to penetrate and then pitch out to the open player at the 3-point line. We shot the ball very well because of that.’’
Latham led Alton with 25 points, while Edwards chipped in with 23.
“They (Alton) shot the ball very well from the perimeter, but our defense just wasn’t very good at all. At times it seemed like it was 5-on-none out there,’’ a dejected West coach Joe Muniz said. “It was almost like a game of horse out there. They were getting wide open looks and knocking them down.’’
Getting 14 points from Dancy and nine from Liddell, the Maroons cut a 12-point deficit to seven at halftime. But on a night when the Maroons honored their team which placed third in the state tournament 50 years ago, this current group of Maroons couldn’t keep the momentum going in the third quarter.
Edwards started the third quarter with his fourth and final 3-point basket, Tre Smith scored off a turnover and when Latham nailed a 3-point shot seconds later, Alton’s lead had grown to 44-31.
Later in the third quarter, Latham turned another West turnover into a layup and when Jordan Golley scored on a tip, Alton’s lead had grown to 52-36.
Alton led 57-48 after three quarters.
Despite the loss, the 6-foot-7, 275-pound Dancy was unstoppable inside. With his Charles Barkley-like body, Dancy was one of the lone bright spots for West.
“When we got the ball inside we scored,’’ Muniz said. “But we got behind and you can’t trade baskets with a team like Alton. We just couldn’t get any stops.’’