Ben Whitten had the hot hand Jan. 23 as his Alton Comets downed the Couch Indians 52-34 in the opening round of the Big Spring Conference Tournament at Alton High School.
Whitten drained seven 3-pointers en route to a game-high 22 points for the third-seeded Comets.
Such was Whitten's touch on this night that he even completed an ultra-rare 4-point play. With less than a minute to play in the third, Whitten canned his sixth triple of the night and was fouled in the process, hitting a free throw to seal the 4-point play deal.
That almost could have been Whitten's second 4-point play of the evening. Just before the halftime buzzer sounded, Whitten was hacked while shooting a 3-pointer. The shot missed, but still earned Whitten a trip to the charity stripe.
Such was the luck of the sixth-seeded Indians on this night.
Couch didn't hit its first field goal of the game until the 39-second mark of the first period, a layup from Nick Ford (eight points).
Lane Brewer (five points) dropped in a little baby hook in the lane at the first-period buzzer to give Alton a 7-3 lead after the first period.
The Comets hit just four field goals in the second, but all four turned out to be 3-pointers, allowing Alton to continue to build its lead.
Logan Simpson (12 points) knocked down the first trey in the frame for Alton and shortly after that, Whitten caught fire and blasted in the next three triples for his squad.
The Indians managed just two field goals in the stanza, a 3-ball from Ford and jumper by Zain Hopper (four points).
Alton took a 20-10 lead to intermission.
Seth Roberts (12 points) took care of business inside the paint for Alton to start the third, while Simpson and Whitten continued to bomb away from the outside.
With 3:52 left in the third, Simpson and Whitten drilled back-to-back treys to push Alton on top 34-15.
Couch stopped this mini-run with a stickback from Blake Martin (nine points) and jumper from Ford, but then it was Whitten time again.
He connected on two straight 3-balls that pushed the Indians further into a hole, down 41-19 with 1:09 left in the third.
Doug Melton (three points) hit a free throw for Couch, but Roberts had the last say with a layup at the horn that saw Alton holding a 43-20 advantage after three.
Cody Roberts shook free long enough to score six of his nine points for the game in the fourth, but Alton was far enough ahead to end the contest with a 52-34 victory.
The Comets fell to Eminence 58-53 Jan. 27.
Alton held a 26-23 lead at the half, but the Redwings rallied to move on top 38-37 after three, en route to a five-point victory.