Willard's five treys key victory for Alton
Although the Alton Comets have not been relying on the 3-point shot as their main offensive weapon this year, as they have in years past, they can still take advantage of it when given the opportunity.
The Comets hit a total of nine treys Jan. 7 as they edged Thayer 59-52 on the Bobcats' home floor.
The two schools, separated by 12 miles, also share a similar makeup in their basketball teams with explosive guards (Alton's Kyle Willard and Thayer's Tim Eckman), and nimble big men on the low blocks (Aaron Haney for the Comets and Josh Eubank for the Bobcats), giving them good balance on both ends of the floor.
This balance helped tell the story of the first half for the Comets (8-1) as they hit from the outside in the first period and then swung the ball inside for their points in the second period.
Willard (25 points) scored all of Alton's nine first period points on three shots from beyond the arc. He finished the game with five treys.
Eckman banked in a jumper off the glass late in the first period for the Bobcats (6-2) to knot the game at 9-all after one.
The Comets grabbed the lead early in the second period as post man Haney went to work.
Haney logged nine of his 15 points in the second as the Comets opened up a 23-16 lead late in the frame.
Thayer's first 3-ball of the game came from the top of the key courtesy of Eckman (24 points) at the 1:24 mark to pull the Bobcats closer, down 23-19.
Three free throws from Alton closed out the scoring in the first half as the Comets held onto a 26-19 halftime advantage.
Clinton Hand (nine points) hit the second of his three 3-pointers for Alton at the 4:28 point of the third as the Comets led 31-22.
Thayer's last six points of the third went to Josh Garrison (11 points) as he brought the Bobcats within four, 36-32, at the end of the third period.
A 10-4 run to start the last period gave the Comets their biggest lead of the game at 46-36.
Willard struck again late in the fourth as he busted back-to-back 3s to keep the Comets in front as they ended the game with a 59-52 win over the Bobcats.