BELLEVILLE — A city championship capped off a great week for the Belleville West Maroons.
Shay Fluker scored 22 points and Jesheon Cooper was dominant defensively in the paint in the second half as the Maroons beat the Althoff Crusaders 45-30 on Saturday night.
The win, along with a 53-52 decision over Belleville East on Tuesday, gave the city title to the Maroons (6-3).
"We had a great week of basketball at Belleville West," Maroons coach Clayton Fisher said. "We beat Belleville East, East St. Louis and Althoff this week. For us, it doesn't get any better than that."
The Maroons reeled off a 23-2 run over the middle quarters to seize control of the game.
"Let's be honest, our pressure got to them," Fisher said. "After a while, they got tired, which is our objective. We try to wear teams out a little bit with our pressure. We're not the most skilled team in the world. We make a lot of mistakes passing and dribbling, but for the most part I was very happy tonight with the way we played basketball.
"I just felt like we played our cleanest game of the year. We weren't real 'ratty.' We weren't throwing the ball all over the gym. For the most part, we ran offense, which was great to see."
The Crusaders (5-2) were led by Kymber Hill with 15 points and Rachel Kaltwasser with nine points.
"We went cold there, and their defense had a lot to do with it because they got good pressure on us," Althoff coach Todd Hill said. "We had worked on that, but sometimes you work on stuff and the kids don't pick up on it right away until you see it."
Imani Berry added nine points and the 6-foot-5 Cooper had nine points, eight rebounds and four blocks for the Maroons.
"She shut everybody down in the second half," Fisher said of Cooper. "She's getting her hands on a lot of balls, getting a lot of rebounds and scoring on the other end.
"We finally looked for her a little bit off our spread offense, and she did a great job."
Fluker hit two 3-pointers and scored her team's first seven points in leading the Maroons out to a 7-2 lead.
"When she is shooting it well, it just makes us tough," Fisher said of Fluker.
The Crusaders tied the score at 7-7 on a three-point play by Hill, and then took 10-9 lead on a 3 from Kaltwasser.
Hill scored the final two baskets of the first quarter from close range as the Crusaders held a 14-11 lead going into the second quarter.
The Maroons went on a 10-0 run as the Crusaders almost got shut out in the second quarter.
A basket by Kaltwasser broke the Crusaders' scoring drought with 25 seconds left in the first half.
In the final 18 seconds of the second quarter, the Maroons got two free throws from Fluker and a basket by Berry after she stripped the ball away from an opposing player under the basket to go up 25-16.
Cooper scored six points to key a 13-0 run in the third quarter that boosted the Maroons' advantage to 38-16.
"I thought initially we came out with good energy and then we hit that stretch there where we hit the wall and didn't get buckets," Hill said. "I told them, 'We have to match that. You play on somebody else's court on the road, you have to be able to match their intensity."'
Kaltwasser sank two free throws after being fouled at the buzzer ending the third quarter, but the Maroons still maintained a 43-26 lead.
Contact reporter Steve Korte at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2522.