ALTON - Byron Stampley, Jr. led four players in double figures with 29 points as Alton won its season opener in the Alton Tip-Off Classic, taking an 88-67 win over St. Louis Carnahan Wednesday night at the Redbirds Nest.

The win was the first under new head coach Dylan Dudley, who took over the helm this summer, and Dudley couldn't have been any happier after the game.

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"I'm really proud of our program, our players, and our families," Dudley said during a post-game interview. "They have tried to do everything we've asked them to do so far and I am so happy that they can come away with a win on opening night."

The Redbirds played well from start to finish, but a pair of key defensive adjustments in the second half on the Cougars' two top scorers, Tavion Campbell and Raiveon Clark, seemed to turn the game around.

"We made a couple of adjustments at halftime defensively," Dudley said, "which I think bothered their two main scorers in the second half."

Asides from the usual first-game nerves and the usual mistakes made during the opener, Alton passed their opening test and did so very well, indeed.

"In the first game, there's obviously a lot of jitters, a lot of nerves and there's always things we'll need to clean up," Dudley said. "But I'm happy with our effort and our willingness to keep competing when things weren't going our way. We were better in the second half, but we're still not anywhere close to where we need to be."

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The opening game was a chance to make a positive opening impression and the Redbirds did so - and did it exceptionally well.

"Our message to the boys before the game was that you only get one chance to make a first impression," Dudley said. "We're far from perfect, but I hope that our fans come to appreciate that our kids played hard and how they all stuck together when things were bad."

The Redbirds and Cougars ended the first quarter tied 16-16, with Alton going ahead 39-36 at halftime, then expanded the lead to 59-52 after three quarters and went on to outscore Carnahan in the final quarter 29-15 to take their opening win.

To go along with Stampley's 29 points, the Redbirds got 15 points from Jamion Everage, 11 points from Blake Hall, and 10 points from Tyrius Jones as their four players in double figures. Hassani Elliot and Kobe Taylor had six points each, while Kameron Burnett, Ian Kambarian, and Ja'Marion Smith all scored three points each and Alex Macias scored two points.

Campbell led the Cougars with 22 points, while Clark added 21 points, Gab Mosely scored nine points, Anthony Jones hit for six points, Jayson Chapple-Griffin scored five points and both B. Conley and Ryan Johnson scored two points each.

The Redbirds start off their season 1-0 and advance to the semifinals of the tournament, where they'll play St. Louis U. High, who defeated Jennings 61-44 in the first game of the night, Friday night at 7:30 p.m. at the Nest, while in the first semifinal, it'll be an all-Southwestern Conference match-up between O'Fallon and Belleville East at 6 p.m. The consolation semifinals on Friday afternoon pit Lift For Life Academy against Confluence Academy, both from St. Louis, at 3 p.m. and Jennings meeting Carnahan at 4:30 p.m. The finals are set for Saturday evening.

"It has been a good start," Dudley said, "and I'm really looking forward to the challenge against a very well-coached St. Louis U. High team."

Dan Brannan also contributed to this story.

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