BELLEVILLE — Being willing to share the ball is paying dividends for the Belleville East Lancers.
Macolm Hill pumped in 29 points and Kahlil Smith-Traylor added 14 as the Lancers cruised past the O'Fallon Panthers 64-43 on Friday.
While Hill continues to lead the way, the Lancers are getting big games from a different member of their supporting cast each time out.
"I give these kids credit, they are playing unselfish," East coach Abel Schrader said. "That's how we have to play. We've had pretty balanced scoring this season so far, and that's a tribute to these kids wanting to have some success. One guy can't carry us. We have kids that can step up each and every night."
Hill also appreciates his teammates' willingness to make that extra pass to get a good shot.
"We have so many weapons, and we want to utilize them well," Hill said. "That means sharing the ball and making sure everybody gets touches and opportunities to score. That makes us hard to defend."
The Lancers remained unbeaten with an 8-0 overall record and a 4-0 Southwestern Conference mark.
"The one thing I like is that we're getting along, and we're starting to practice harder," Schrader said. "These kids are good kids and they want to have success, and I believe they realize that in order to do that, they have to play team basketball.
"They have to play with effort and they have to be able to guard someone. I'm happy with where we are at. Obviously, it's Dec. 14, we have a long way to go."
One area where Schrader wants to see some improvement is rebounding.
"Our biggest issue tonight was defensive rebounding," Schrader said. "I don't know what the numbers were, but they probably killed us on the boards."
The Panthers fell to 3-6 overall, 0-4 in the SWC. They've lost five straight games.
O'Fallon coach Rick Gibson said his team's turnovers led to too many easy baskets for the Lancers.
"We turned it over, turned it over, turned it over," Gibson said. "When you let them get in transition, it turns into NBA All-Star weekend at that point."
The Panthers got behind 35-19 by halftime, and they recovered.
"It's tough when you bury yourself down that far," said Gibson, whose team was outscored 17-6 in the second quarter. "We're not a quick-strike team, where we can rattle off a ton of points in a row. We need to grind it out a little and keep things a little lower scoring."
Todd Porter paced the Panthers with 10 points, followed by Parker Roustio with nine points and Charlie Harmon with eight.
Smith-Traylor scored 10 points in the opening quarter to help spur the Lancers to a 18-10 lead.
Porter connected on a 3-pointer at the end of the first quarter to trim the East's lead to 18-13.
The Panthers got within 25-17 in the second quarter, but the Lancers ended the first half with a 10-2 run that put them ahead 35-19.
A layup by Smith-Traylor with 37 seconds remaining in the second quarter capped the surge.
Hill scored the first two buckets of the third quarter as the Lancers went up 39-19.
"They started smelling blood right there at that point," Gibson said. "Like I said, turnover, turnover, turnover, and we got back on our heels and we weren't aggressive.
"We thought if we could keep it in single digits, we'd have a chance."
The Panthers tried to come back, but Hill had a two-handed dunk and then drilled a 3-pointer with two seconds left in the third quarter to give the Lancers a 51-31 cushion.
"I think I'm getting better on defense, and my jump shot is becoming better," Hill said of where he's shown improvement so far in his senior season. "I still need some work on my ballhandling."
Contact reporter Steve Korte at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2522.