Weller Leads Edwardsville With 21 Points, Tigers Capture Senior Night Win Over Redbirds 44-31
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EDWARDSVILLE - Forward Brennan Weller led the way with 21 points as Edwardsville won its regular season finale at home 44-31 over Alton Tuesday night at Lucco-Jackson Gym.
Prior to the game, Weller and his fellow seniors - Caleb Valentine, Ryan Hampton, Hayden Moore, Preston Weaver and Jalil Roundtree - were honored along with their families in the annual Senior Night game, where the seniors were thanked for all of their contributions to the program. And the Tigers played very well in sending off the Class of 2021 with style.
"The guys played real hard tonight," said Edwardsville head coach Dustin Battas, "and we were able to send our seniors off with a win on Senior Night, which is great."
Battas is very proud of all of his seniors, and how they made such a positive impact on the Tigers' program.
"The six seniors, they are all great basketball players," Battas said, "great teammates outstanding people, and they're all great role models for our younger players. I'm very proud of their accomplishments."
As far as the game went, the defense shined again for the Tigers, holding a team under 40 points for the fifth time in the last six games.
"I thought it was a great defensive effort," Battas said, "because (Ja'Markus Gary of the Redbirds) is a great player, and it took a strong effort from Caleb and Jalil to contain him."
Gary led the Redbirds with 18 points, with his first eight coming in the opening quarter, after which Alton led 10-8. The Tigers were able to come back in the second by outscoring the Redbirds 9-2 to take a 17-12 lead at halftime, with Weller, Valentine and Gabe James all connecting from behind the arc.
The Tigers extended their lead to 32-20 after three quarters, then used solid free throw shooting to keep Alton at bay after a late rally, clinching the 44-31 win.
Besides Weller's 21 points, both Weaver and Valentine had eight points each, while James scored five points on the night. Along with Gary's 18 points, Lathan O'Quinn added eight points for the Redbirds, while Kyle Hubbard scored four.
"We made some threes against their zone," Battas said, "and did a good job of taking care of the ball."
The Tigers finish the regular season 11-2, while the Redbirds finished 0-12, and now will face each other again on Thursday when the Tigers host the first quarterfinal of the Southwestern Conference postseason tournament Thursday evening, with a 7 p.m. start. The Tigers have the number two seed in the tournament, while the Redbirds are seeded seventh.
The winner will play against the winner of number six O'Fallon and number three Belleville West in the second semifinal on Friday night, while the winner of number five Collinsville and fourth seeded East St. Louis meets top seed Belleville East in the first semifinal. The semifinal winners will play for the title on Saturday, with the highest seeded teams hosting each game. Start times are to be announced.
Battas knows the Tigers had a great regular season, and hopes to cap off the year with a great showing in the conference tournament.
"We had a great cap on our regular season, finishing 11-2," Battas said, "and we're grateful we get to spend a few more days with our guys."
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