Boys Varsity Basketball
Game Summaries & Headlines.
PREP BOYS BASKETBALL: Clay, Smith form Alton 1-2 punch that knocks out Lancers
Greg Shashack, firstname.lastname@example.org
Greg Shashack / The Telegraph
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Alton’s Donovan Clay (left) puts up a shot over a pair of Jennings defenders in the Redbirds’ loss Saturday at the Ramey Shootout in Webster Groves. The Redbirds returned to SWC action Tuesday night and won
BELLEVILLE – His red Alton Redbirds jersey remained the same, but Malik Smith took on a dramatic role change at halftime.
From first-half distributor to second-half scorer, Smith teamed with Donovan Clay to power the Redbirds past the Belleville East Lancers 73-61 in a Southwestern Conference boys basketball game Tuesday night at East.
“I was really trying to get my team involved,” Malik Smith said of his assists that helped stake Alton to a 32-19 lead at the half. “Because I’m a leader and it’s my job to get everybody else involved and get them going. I got myself involved in the second half.”
With both teams getting hot from the arc, Smith scored 20 of his 24 points in the final two quarters without a single miss. The 6-foot-3 senior made all eight of his shots from the field, including four from 3-point range, to finish 10 of 12 for the game.
Smith credited his teammates with finding him in open space and “I was able to knock down some 3’s,” he said.
The victory evened Alton’s record at 5-5 – including three forfeit losses – and pushed the Redbirds’ SWC mark to 3-1. East is 6-5 and 3-2 in the league.
Coming off a lackluster loss to Jennings on Saturday in a shootout at Webster Groves, the Redbirds returned to their blueprint against the Lancers. Penetration in the lane – paint touches, coach Eric Smith calls them – and either get to the rim or kick out for open perimeter shots. The Redbirds repeated the formula at East and shot 66 percent (27 of 41) from the field, including 8 of 16 from the arc.
“We got paint touches,” Eric Smith said. “Early, we didn’t shoot a whole lot of contested shots. This isn’t necessarily where we want to be, obviously, but this was better offensively than we’ve been in a couple weeks.”
While most of Malik Smith’s offense came in the second half, Clay was a four-quarters offensive threat for the Redbirds. The 6-foot-7 guard turned in a double-double with 25 points and 11 rebounds. Clay made 7 of 11 shots from the field, including 2 of 5 3-pointers. After missing his first free throws, Clay converted 9 of his last 10 from the line.
The Redbirds also found offense from Ky’Lun Rivers with nine points and Moory Woods with eight.
“We shared the ball a little bit better,” Eric Smith said. “The last couple games – we got lucky against Collinsville – we’ve taken a lot of contested 3’s. You can see when we shoot open jumpers, we shoot the ball pretty well.”
Izeal Terrell, who will sign to play college football at Southeast Missouri on Wednesday, converted a three-point play in the final seconds of the first quarter to put Alton up 12-5. The Redbirds’ lead reached double digits at 17-5 on Rivers’ 3-pointer early in the second quarter.
East, which made 8 of 23 shots in the first half, got its offense in gear in the third quarter. The Lancers and Redbirds combined to make seven 3-pointers in the final 4:42 of the third quarter, but every East punch was met with an Alton counter-punch.
“They were a little bit more aggressive,” Eric Smith said of the Lancers offensive surge. “They just decided they were going to put their head down and go to the basket. We didn’t put up much of a fight for a little bit. And when we decided to put up a fight, they’re already feeling pretty good and they had some rhythm and that makes it a little bit harder.”
The Lancers would draw within eight points (56-48) with six minutes left in the fourth quarter, but Alton responded with a Malik Smith trey and three free throws from Clay to grow the lead back to 14 points and the margin never again saw single digits.
“It’s the way we play, the other team’s going to go on a run,” Eric Smith said. “I think the same thing happened tonight, they eventually wear down, which is a good sign for us because we’re only playing seven kids right now.”
East got 20 points from Malik Williams, including 16 in the second half, 16 points from Jared Adams and 12 points, all in the second half, from Isaiah May. The Lancers made 16 of 23 shots after halftime, but could not get a stop on Malik Smith, who scored 14 points in the game’s final six minutes.
“If he’s going to shoot a rhythm, uncontested jumper,” Eric Smith said of Malik Smith, “it’s over.”