Belleville West basketball coach Joe Muniz got neither the effort, the execution or the outcome he wanted in the Maroons’ first game of the new season.
With its 54-46 loss to Farmington, West falls behind in pool play at the 50th Annual Vianney Invitational Tournament in Kirkwood, Mo.
“It was our first game, so maybe we were a little tight,” said Muniz, now in his 13th season at West. “I don’t know, but we didn’t come out with the energy I was hoping for.”
Farmington sophomore Tycen Gray, meanwhile, played bigger than his 6-foot, 3-inch stature. The second-year starting forward, scored 22 points, including 15 in the third quarter, and was a force on defense.
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“He was the best player on the floor,” Muniz said. “He played with a big old heart and a big old chip on his shoulder. I hope our guys got a look at that and try to emulate him.”
Belleville West (0-1), seeded third in the tournament, next plays No. 2 Hazelwood Central (1-0) at 6 p.m. Wednesday. Farmington (2-1) will advance to a winner’s bracket game Friday.
Farmington built a 19-11 lead early in the second quarter, but the Maroons’ full-court pressure sped the tempo and took the Knights out of their game.
Senior Tyler Dancy and sophomore E.J. Liddell each scored under the basket during an 8-0 run that tied the game at 21 each.
“We could have had more points, but we didn’t do a very good job of executing once we had the ball,” Muniz said. “We’d get a turnover then not get anything out of it. That was the only thing I thought that hurt us in the second quarter.”
West tied the game at 30-30 midway through the third quarter on a three-point basket by junior Will Matthews and took its first lead at the 2:22 mark when Dancy completed a three-point play with a bonus free throw.
The Maroons answered a 10-0 run with three-point baskets by Ian Parker and Liddell, but they could not establish their size advantage under the baskets, a disappointment for Muniz who said his team didn’t leverage its strengths against the smaller Knights.
“We settled for way too many 3-point jump shots,” Muniz said. “We have to take what the defense gives us, but at the same point we had to try to get the ball inside. For the size that we have and the athletes that we put on the floor ... Their guts and determination were so evident. They got every defensive rebound and (Gray) got every loose ball possible.”
Farmington out-scored West 16-10 in the fourth quarter and were good on 18 of 22 free throws in the game. The Maroons were 3-for-10 from the line.
Dancy and Liddell each had 13 points to lead West. Matthews had six.
For Farmington, junior Brendon Hardy add 12 to Gray’s 22.