Belleville West’s E.J. Liddell and Tyler Dancy stole the show Friday.
Liddell, a 6-foot-6 freshman, and Dancy, a 6-7 junior, accounted for 49 points in the Maroons’ 64-46 victory over Collinsville in a Southwestern Conference game.
Liddell led all scorers with 27 points, while Dancy had 22 as the Maroons improved to 5-9 overall and 2-5 in the SWC. Collinsville got 26 points from junior Ronnie Midgett, 18 of them in the second half, but tumbled to 5-9 and 1-6 with its fourth consecutive loss.
“We knew going in that we had a big size advantage,” said Maroons coach Joe Muniz, who was concerned nonetheless given that Liddell and Dancy had been sick all week and missed a couple of practices. “I thought our guards were very patient and threw the ball into them when they should have; they didn’t force it. E.J. and Tyler really worked well together.
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“I was worried about their energy, but boy, they bounced back and were really fresh. They’re getting better together and they love playing with each other. They look for each other.”
Liddell, who scored 20 points in the first half, finished 8-for-11 from the floor and 9-for-11 from the free-throw line. Dancy was 10-for-15 from the field and 2-for-3 from the line.
“I just tried to come out and get the tempo going ... so they couldn’t get anything going,” said Liddell, who leads the Maroons in scoring at 17.2 points per game.
Dancy, meanwhile, agreed with Muniz’s assessment. The Maroons guards, primarily juniors Jack Lanxon and DeAndre Jackson, did a nice job distributing the ball.
“Our guards did a good job being patient and waiting for us to get open in the post and getting us the ball when we were open,” Dancy said.
Junior Elijah Powell added seven points for West, which committed just seven turnovers.
We knew going in that we had a big size advantage. I thought our guards were very patient and threw the ball into them when they should have; they didn’t force it. E.J. and Tyler really worked well together.
West coach Joe Muniz on E.J. Liddell and Tyler Dancy
Collinsville was overpowered in the paint, and its cause was further damaged for the second straight game by foul trouble on 6-4 senior Zach Flora.
Flora picked up his third foul with 7:08 to play in the second quarter, then registered No. 4 with 4:28 remaining in the third quarter. He finished with four points.
“We couldn’t handle them down there,” Kahoks coach Darin Lee said of his team’s difficulty against Liddell and Dancy in the paint. “We knew that coming in. We did a little better job when we went man. But even then, we still couldn’t guard them. We didn’t have an answer for them. When Flora gets in foul trouble, we’re in a lot of trouble.”
West led 17-10 after one quarter and 37-21 at halftime. Liddell and Dancy accounted for the Maroons’ first 34 points, a streak that was finally snapped when Powell popped a 3-pointer out of the left corner to make it 37-19 with 1:06 left in the second quarter.
With Midgett catching fire in the third quarter, Collinsville whittled its deficit to 41-33 when sophomore Jake Hall hit a 3-pointer at the 3:21 mark.
But West re-established control of the contest by scoring the next eight points. Dancy connected on two baskets and Powell and junior Dalton Fox had the others, extending the Maroons’ lead to 51-35 with 7:39 left in the fourth quarter.
The Kahoks got no closer than 11 in the final five minutes.
Liddell and Dancy were unquestionably the stars, but Midgett was tremendous in the second half despite the loss.
Weaving in and out of traffic on his way to the rim, Midgett was 8-for-12 from the field in the third and fourth quarters, including a pair of 3-pointers in each period.
We couldn’t handle them down there. We knew that coming in. We did a little better job when we went man. But even then, we still couldn’t guard them. We didn’t have an answer for them.
Collinsville coach Darin Lee on guarding E.J. Liddell and Tyler Dancy
But the Kahoks must find a way to get their shooting guard off to better starts. Midgett has been slowed in the first half in the last three games, and in two of them, Collinsville faced one-sided disadvantages before Midgett found his touch.
“We’re going to have to execute better in the first half,” Lee said.
Collinsville’s second-leading scorer was senior Tommy Maden with six points. Maden, averaging 12.6 points, was just 2-for-5 from the field.
“I was proud of the way we guarded the Maden kid,” Muniz said. “Jack Lanxon and Tommy Evans, and even (Jackson) when he was on him, did a great job. Every shot he had was a contested shot.”