SALEM — If Thursday's opening game of the season may be used as a guide, a starter's pistol might be more useful than a whistle when it comes to the Lady Lancers of Belleville East.
Playing Olney-East Richland in the opening game of the Salem Lady Wildcat Thanksgiving Tournament, the Lady Lancers turned the contest into a track meet from the onset and used a big night from Aniecia Brewster as well as a dominant second half to pull away from the Lady Tigers 58-42 at B.E. Gum Gymnasium.
Brewster, a 5-foot-11 senior who also stars on the East track team, destroyed Olney's defense throughout with her ability to beat the Lady Tigers down the floor, as she erupted for 31 points to go with 13 rebounds.
Brewster had a dozen points in the first quarter alone and did so by scoring on six layups in transition. She dumped in 10 more points in the third quarter, when East outscored Olney 24-11 to break open what had been a 21-19 game at intermission.
"We wanted an up-tempo game and it's something we've talked a lot about," said Lady Lancers' head coach Andrea Seipp. "Defensively, we have to get stops and we have to get rebounds so we can push the ball up the floor.
"Aniecia is an amazing athlete and she's gotten even better athletically with strength and speed. She's going to be a Division I track athlete and she brought her basketball game to the court tonight."
East's defense was at its best in the third quarter as well, as a 1-3-1 trap forced the Lady Tigers into a handful of turnovers that led to even more easy buckets.
"At half, we talked about making just the little adjustments on defense, like stopping their dribble drive" Seipp said. "We had some luck with the 1-3-1. I think it kind of threw them off a little bit."
Montira Mosby, a 5-10 junior, also finished in double figures for the Lady Lancers with 10 points and she pulled down nine rebounds. Standout sophomore guard Marely Moore had 14 points for Olney, but she did so on 5 for 18 shooting from the field.
East will finish Pool A play on Saturday with a pair of games. At 10:30 a.m., the Lady Lancers oppose Carlyle and East will face Civic Memorial at 5:30 p.m.
Teutopolis 51, Highland 31
In a Pool B contest played after the win by Belleville East, the Lady Shoes dealt Highland a season-opening defeat.
Madelin Hartke had 14 points to lead Teutopolis and Cierra Thompson added 11. For Highland, Kristen Potthast led the way with 13.
Tonight's games have Carlyle playing Civic Memorial at 6:30 and the host squad opposing Centralia at 8.