CENTRALIA — The Belleville East Lancers put their stamp on the inaugural Centralia Thanksgiving Tournament.
Malcolm Hill scored 24 points and Darreon Reddick added 21 as the Lancers beat the host Centralia Orphans 53-42 Saturday night to claim the championship.
The Lancers went 4-0 in the tourney, and Hill was chosen as its Most Valuable Player.
East coach Abel Schrader felt like it was his team's defense that was most responsible for the win.
The Lancers limited the Orphans to 15 points on 4-for-19 shooting in the second half.
"In the second half, we only allowed 15 points, and that was the difference," Schrader said. "In the first half, their offense was out-of-bounds plays. They might have scored eight or 10 points off them in the first half. We looked terrible.
"We shored some things up. The guys fought a little harder, and that was the difference. Defense."
The Orphans (3-1) led 31-30 before being outscored 9-1 over the final five minutes of the third quarter. They could never make up the lost ground.
"We got to free-lancing a lot," Centralia coach Lee Bennett said. "I don't know if that helped us make points. I'm pretty sure it didn't. They pressured, and it got real physical. It was hard for our guys to make cuts, it got hard for them to dribble it."
Bennett said the Orphans made a lot of mistakes that are easily fixable.
"We sabotaged ourselves a lot," Bennett said. "It's stuff we can fix, and hopefully will fix quick and easy."
The Orphans were led by Jake Wood with 15 points and seven rebounds. Jerod Simmons-Young had 10 points and Chase Alcorn had nine points.
Hill also had nine rebounds and five steals for East, while Reddick grabbed six rebounds.
"They can dribble, they can shoot, they can pass it, they catch," Bennett said of Hill and Reddick. "It's so much easier for them to deflect one of our passes than us to deflect one of theirs."
The Orphans connected on their first three shots of the game to bolt out to a 7-0 lead.
Reddick hit a 3-pointer and then Hill hit consecutive 3s as the Lancers pulled in front 9-7.
The Lancers led 15-11 after two free throws by Reddick, but the Orphans got a 3 from Wood to cut their deficit to 15-14 at the end of the first quarter.
The score was tied three times in the second quarter, the last time coming on three free throws by Simmons-Young after he was fouled on a 3 attempt with 59 seconds remaining.
That was the last basket of the first half as the score was tied 28-28 at halftime.
The Orphans seized the lead briefly in the third quarter after a 3 from Simmons-Young.
Hill scored seven unanswered points to trigger a 9-0 run that put the Lancers ahead 39-31.
The Lancers led 39-32 going into the fourth quarter and they got a layup from Hill to extend that advantage to nine points.
A three-point play from De'Ontre Cunningham got the Orphans back within six. The Orphans crept within four on a jumper just inside the 3-point line by Charlie Evischi with 2:09 left.
Hill came up with a loose ball under the basket and scored with 1:40 left and Reddick sank two free throws with 1:07 left to give the Lancers an eight-point cushion.
Reddick and Hill each added two more free throws in the final 39 seconds to seal the win.
"I'm extremely happy," Schrader said of winning the tourney. "We played some good competition. Centralia is very, very good. We're happy, but we go back to work this week."
Reddick made the all-tournament team along with Wood, Alcorn, Mascoutah's Marshall Moore and Mahomet-Seymour's Brad Herrmann.
The Lancers have a week off before opening Southwestern Conference play against Edwardsville on Dec. 4.
East beat the Jerseyville Panthers 66-52 earlier Saturday to set up the showdown with the Orphans.
The Lancers had five players in double figures against Jerseyville, with Cameron Hunter leading the way with 17 points.
Hunter also had nine rebounds, five steals and two assists.
White added 14 points and Hill, Reddick and Tarrance Atkins all had 10 points.
In another tourney game, the Mascoutah Indians got 16 points from Marshall Moore to beat the Mahomet-Seymour Bulldogs 56-51.
Alex Oltmann came close to a triple-double with 11 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists , while Alex King had 10 points and 10 rebounds and Tim Parks had 13 points.
Contact reporter Steve Korte at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2522.