Alton senior Malik Smith defends Chaminade's Matteus Case in the Chick-Fil-A Belleville East Classic on Saturday night.

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BELLEVILLE - Holding a one-point lead over the Chaminade Red Devils heading into the fourth quarter, Donovan Clay, who came in averaging over 15 points had scored two up until that point.

After teammate Ky’Lun Rivers drained a triple, Clay followed by knocking down back-to-back treys to give the Alton Redbirds a ten-point fourth quarter lead.

"I knew I had to make a spark for the team," Clay said. "I came in and hit the two 3s, and we started going.”

That sequence proved to be vital as the Redbirds held off the Red Devils 67-59 to claim the Chick-Fil-A Belleville East Classic championship on Saturday night.

"This is a big step. We beat a 13-0 Trinity team, and then we beat traditionally one of the best teams in the area every year,” Alton head coach Eric Smith said. “To be able to come out and win two games like that in this tournament is a big deal. I'm happy for our kids. They've been through a lot. They've had to grow up and fight through adversity, whether it was their fault or not."

Clay who scored nine points and grabbed eight rebounds garnered the tournament’s Most Valuable Player award.

Malik Smith finished with a game-high 19 points for Alton. He was followed by Ky’Lun Rivers’ 13 points and ten points by junior guard Andrew Jones.

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Chaminade, who had won the last two tournaments, fell to 10-6.

“You've got to give credit to them. They came out with energy and were ready to play for a championship,” Chaminade head coach Frank Bennett said. “We had a ton of mental lapses, especially at crucial times. That's the nature of the game. If you, against good teams, have mental lapses, you can expect to get punished for them. That's what happened."

Luke Kasubke, who has a variety of mid-to-high-major Division One offers, led Chaminade with 15 points. 6-foot-7 freshman Terrance Reed Jr. had 14 points, and junior Matteus Case chipped in with 13.

Chaminade didn’t go away quickly as they trimmed the deficit to 55-51 with under four minutes to play. However, Ky’Lun Rivers drained another three-pointer. Then 6-foot-5 senior forward Josh Rivers got a steal and a posterizing dunk over Kasubke that sent the Alton fans into a frenzy. That put the Redbirds up 60-51.

Rivers finished the game with eight points after coming off a massive game against Trinity. After coming off an extended suspension from the brawl involving Riverview Gardens, Rivers has been an instant impact, and Clay among others is only happy he’s back.

"We came in with a lot of confidence. This means a lot. It just shows where we can be," Clay said. "We had one of our best players back (Rivers). He came in and contributed a lot. It's a blessing to have [Rivers] back and see him contribute the way he did.

Alton will host Edwardsville on Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. in a makeup game that was initially scheduled on Friday, January 11.

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