Threes were raining inside Alton High School Gymnasium in the opening contest of the inaugural Alton Shootout. Metro-East Lutheran would come out of the gates draining three straight threes as they would put Litchfield behind early and cruise to a 49-27 victory on Saturday, Feb. 1.
It would not take long for the Knights to take an early commanding lead as they would knock down three straight three pointers in the first minute and a half of the contest. The Knights would add one more field goal before the Purple Panthers would be able to light their side of the scoreboard.
Trailing 11-0, Austin Niehaus would add the first points of the game for Litchfield as he connected on one of two attempts from the charity stripe. Brady Bishop would add two more points to the Litchfield side after the Knights connected on their 13th point of the opening quarter.
The Knights would continue to find ways to score in the final minutes of the quarter as they would add five more points as they built a 18-3 lead.
With just over two minutes to play the Purple Panthers would add another field goal as Anthony Boston knocked down a two-point basket. Boston's basket would be the last basket for both teams as Metro-East Lutheran would own a commanding 18-5 lead after one quarter of action.
The Purple Panthers would narrow the double digit lead to single digits in the first minute of the second quarter. Blaine Stewart would connect on a three-point basket and Brady Bishop would follow with a two, narrowing the Knights lead to 18-10.
The Knights would put a stop to the Purple Panthers early run as they would answer with ten unanswered points. The 10-0 run would last through the last seven minutes of the quarter as the Knights would not allow the Purple Panthers to score again in the quarter.
The strong defense effort by the Knights would allow Metro-East Lutheran to build a 28-10 lead at the half. AJ Smith, brother of University of Missouri basketball standout Mark Smith, would lead all scorers with ten first half points. Brady Bishop would lead the Purple Panthers with four points.
After being held scoreless for seven minutes, Litchfield would look to end that drought in the second half. Instead the Knights' defense would continue to hold the Purple Panthers at bay.
Litchfield would not be able to buy a bucket until John Corso put in a field goal at the 4:30 mark of the third frame.
While Litchfield would continue to struggle to put points on the board the Knights would add eight more points to their total, building their lead to 36-10. Corso's basket would give the Purple Panthers 12 points in the contest and a three-point basket by Corso followed by a field goal by Cameron Crow would give the Purple Panthers 17 points.
The minute and a half scoring burst by the Purple Panthers would narrow the Knights' lead to 36-17 with just under three minutes to play in the quarter.
The Knights once again would have an answer for the Purple Panthers offensive success as Metro-East Lutheran would add four more points to their total to give them a 40-17 lead after three quarters of action.
AJ Smith would continue to have the hot hand for the Knights as he put in seven of the 12 points the Knights scored in the quarter.
Litchfield's big boy, Anthony Boston, would have early quarter success in the final frame as he netted four points to start the final quarter. The two quick baskets by Boston would give the Purple Panthers a quick start to the quarter, narrowing the Knights' lead to 40-21.
Litchfield would also get points from Blaine Stewart and Austin Niehaus in the quarter as the Purple Panthers would connect on ten fourth quarter points. The Knights lead, though, would be too large for the Purple Panthers to crack through as Metro-East Lutheran would walk away with a 49-27 victory.
AJ Smith would lead all scorers with 19 points and Blaine Stewart would lead Litchfield with seven points. The loss would drop Litchfield to 9-14 overall, while Metro-East Lutheran would improve to 11-13 overall.
Litchfield will be back at home on Tuesday, Feb. 4, when they host the Auburn Trojans in a non-conference showdown, before traveling to North Mac on Wednesday and Pana on Friday.
February 1 at Alton
Litchfield 5 5 7 10 27
Metro-East Luth. 18 10 12 9 49
Litchfield (27) - Anthony Boston 6, John Corso 5, Blaine Stewart 5, Brady Bishop 4, Austin Niehaus 3, Blake McGill 2, Cameron Crow 2. Totals: 12 1-4 27.
Metro-East Lutheran (49) - A.J. Smith 19, Izaia Bain 12, Brendan Steinmeyer 4, Zion Tucker 3, Cameron Gusewelle 3, Ziare Woody 2, Tyler Williams 2, Nathan Butler 2, Luke Neath 2. Totals: 18 6-11 49.
Three-point field goals: Litchfield 2 (Stewart 1, Corso 1); Metro-East Lutheran 7 (Smith 3, Bain 3, Tucker 1).
Records: Litchfield (9-14); Metro-East Lutheran (11-13).