ALTON — Throughout a highly-successful tenure as Belleville West girls basketball coach, Clayton Fisher has preached the importance of defensive pressure.
On Wednesday, the Maroons listened to the sermon and reaped what was sown.
Displaying relentless pressure throughout, West did not allow a basket for the first three quarters as they rolled to a season opening win 50-6 over Jerseyville at the Alton Lady Redbird Tip-Off Classic.
Using its quickness and athleticism, the Maroons jumped out to leads of 14-2 after one quarter and 30-4 at halftime against an overmatched Panthers squad, which opened its season on Monday with a one-point loss to Cahokia.
On Wednesday, the Panthers were never in the game. West forced eight turnovers on Jerseyville's first 10 possessions.
With sophomore Shay Fluker and senior Asia Cochran scoring four first quarter points each, the Maroons were off and running.
"Let's make no mistake about it. We were obviously much quicker and more athletic then they (Jerseyville) were,'' Fisher said. "We're quick. Our girls get their hands on a lot of passes and we're going to have to live on that this year because we're not big and strong enough to pound teams inside.''
The Maroons allowed just four free throws in the first three quarters and didn't allow the Panthers to make a field goal until Kristen Marshall hit a 10-foot jumper with 6:36 left in the game.
The Panthers were guilty of 34 turnovers in the first three quarters.
On the offensive end, Fluker led West with 12 points, while 6-5 junior center Jesheon Cooper added 11.
"Shay's a sophomore with (NCAA) Division I talent,'' Fisher said. "She can shoot the ball, she can handle t and she can pass it. Her big thing right now is to get better on the defensive end. And Jesheon (Cooper) has improved a ton over last year.
"I'm pleased to a point. Forcing turnovers is great, but our halfcourt defense wasn't where I wanted it to be. We've got a lot to work on, but for an opener I'm very pleased.''
Mater Dei 60, Springfield Lanphier 27
After shaking out the opening night jitters, Mater Dei dominated the final three quarters as rolled to the easy first-round win.
Lanphier, coming off an opening game 52-50 win over Alton on Monday, trailed just 12-8 after one quarter. But the Knights, playing for the first time in four years without two-time all-stater Brooke Schulte, used a 23-7 spurt to take a 35-15 lead at halftime.
"It's like I told the girls. We hadn't even scrimmaged yet this year so this was really the first time we had gone up and down the floor. It has been all fundamentals and things like that,'' Knights coach Dave Kohnen said.
"We had some miss-timing on some of the turnovers, but that will come. But you can never take never take away the defense. I thought our girls did a really nice job of turning them on the corners.''
Senior Emily Koelling scored 14 of her 18 points in the first half. The 6-foot Koelling combined with Jamie Voss to dominate in the paint and helped give Mater Dei a rebounding advantage against the smaller but athletic Lions.
Voss added 10 points.
The Knights also got seven points from senior Paige Richards during their second quarter spurt.
"Lanphier is a nice, athletic team and you've got to respect that,'' Kohnen said. "I was pleased and proud of how well the girls played tonight.
"I feel we've got 10 players who can contribute and they did.''
Junior forward Jasmine Ross led Lanphier with 16 points.