COLLINSVILLE • Alton senior Kevin Caldwell could have pulled the ball out and run time off the clock. He could have dribbled the ball around defenders and stalled
Caldwell could have done a lot of things.
But, with a minute remaining, he did what he's done all year — attack the rim.
"I knew we were up two and I could have pulled it out, but I wanted to give us a little more of a lead," Caldwell said. "I just tried to do one of my good moves and get a bucket."
Caldwell turned into a whirling dervish as he spun his way past the Collinsville defense and leaped up for a layup that put Alton ahead by two possessions with less than a minute to go in regulation.
Alton pulled out a 68-60 victory in a Southwestern Conference boys basketball game at Collinsville High School.
"It's good to keep pushing forward," Alton junior Malik Smith said. "It's almost at the end of our regular season and we want to keep moving forward and try to stay up in the conference."
Alton (14-8, 8-3 SWC) picked up its third win in a row and swept the season-series over Collinsville (15-10, 3-7).
All game long, it was Smith that was burning the Collinsville's defense. Whether it was in transition or on the end of ball reversals, Smith was the hot hand as he finished the game leading all scorers with 29 points.
Caldwell saw that the defense was sagging off of him in attempt to keep Smith from getting the ball, so Caldwell attacked.
"I wanted to attack and create for my teammates," Caldwell said.
When the defense didn't rotate to stop Caldwell, he spun around his defender and leaped past another to put the Redbirds up 62-58 with a minute to go.
Caldwell finished the night with 18 points and four assists.
Smith's hot hand in the first half culminated with six points in Alton's half-ending 8-0 run. He capped it off with a dunk over a Collinsville defender in transition.
"I was really pumped up and waiting for it," Smith said.
While Smith did score a lot of points, most of his points came in transition as the Redbirds sprinted up and down the court at times.
"We were rebounding when they did miss it," Alton coach Eric Smith said. "He got out and ran the floor and he's an athletic kid who can finish. If we make the commitment to get out and run a little bit, he'll have big nights like he did tonight."
After Smith and Caldwell burned Collinsville earlier in the season, both combining for 50 points in the first contest, Darin Lee tried to focus on those two to stop them.
"We needed to stop No. 2 (Caldwell) and No. 13 (Smith) and we didn't get it done," Lee said.
Lee didn't see Alton run any fancy sets that hurt his defense, it was just simply the Redbirds were attacking the basket.
Late in the first half, Alton showed Collinsville a little zone look but switched out of it to begin the second half and that's when Collinsville junior Marshall Harrison and sophomore Ray'Sean Taylor shot the Kahoks back into the game.
Taylor and Harrison combined to score 14 points in the third quarter.
Taylor led all the Kahoks with 25 points, while Harrison ended with 14 points.
While the zone was effective, Smith was worried about giving up the long-ball and the team's comfort level with the zone was the reason why he switched back to a man-to-man defense.
"That's probably the second time all year we've played a 2-3," Smith said. "We've worked on it a little bit, but the comfort level isn't there yet. In a one-two point game, the last thing we wanted to give up was a three-pointer."
Collinsville got a chance to honor its two seniors Braeden Lemp and Bailey McGovern and Lee points to their leadership as helping the team to a winning season.
"They're good kids and are good leaders and they've evolved a long way," Lee said. "We didn't win a lot when they were freshmen, but now we're having a winning season, so that says a lot about how much they've helped. They're going to be successful people and that's what's important."