COLLINSVILLE — Belleville East senior Malcolm Hill did what good players do Thursday.
With the top-seeded Lancers in danger in the first round of the Collinsville-Schnucks Holiday Classic, the 6-foot-7 Illinois recruit took over in the third quarter and lifted East past upset-minded Riverview Gardens 82-71.
Hill's dunk on a lob from senior Khalil Smith-Traylor with 2:42 to play in the third quarter put the Lancers (10-0), who had trailed by nine, ahead to stay at 51-50. Hill followed with another dunk and a rebound basket to extend the lead to 55-50.
They were part of a dominant 33-point, 11-rebound outburst for Hill, who has scored 72 points in the last two games.
"With Khalil handling the ball and scoring and making plays for us, that really helps us," Hill said of the on-the-mark feed from Smith-Traylor that led to his first dunk. "That helped us get momentum. When we get a dunk or a great play, that fires us up and makes us play harder."
Hill, however, wasn't totally satisfied, considering the Lancers surrendered an early 14-3 lead and played come-from-behind for much of the game.
"It's a big win, but the problem for us is we've got to play like that from the jump," said Hill, who also had three assists, three steals, four blocks and was 8-for-9 from the free-throw line. "We got off to a great run at the beginning. We kind of slacked off from there. We let them get the run, Coach (Abel Schrader) yelled at us and then we got it together."
Junior Cameron Hunter came off the bench and scored 21 points and grabbed six rebounds for the Lancers, who shot 64 percent from the field (32-for-50). Smith-Traylor had 16 points and five assists.
East will play Decatur MacArthur (6-5) in the quarterfinals at 2:30 p.m. Friday. The Generals defeated Althoff 57-44 in another first-round game Thursday.
The Lancers, who trailed 43-36 at halftime, are shooting for their second championship at Collinsville in the last three years.
"I wasn't happy with our intensity (in the first half), especially defensively," Schrader said. "They hit some tough shots. They've got some good players. The second half, we came out and played a little better, a little harder.
"I guess maybe it was your typical (first-round) game, but that's not what we wanted to do when we came in here at 9 o'clock."
Schrader said foul trouble on junior point guard Darreon Reddick didn't help. Reddick fouled out in the fourth quarter and finished with just eight points in 19 minutes.
Senior Tyrin Williams had 36 points and five 3-pointers for Riverview Gardens (1-7).
"That's a great player," Hill said. "That's probably the best player I've played against ever since (O'Fallon's) Roosevelt Jones my sophomore year. I've never really played against anybody who can shoot the 3 that well with a hand in his face. He hit a lot of tough shots."
Williams scored 23 points in the first half to spark the Rams to their seven-point lead. The Lancers applied pressure to slow down Williams somewhat in the second half.
"We knew Tyrin Williams; we've heard about him," Schrader said. "We didn't know what his situation was, if he was going to play or not. But he's a good player. He's quick and he can really make an outside shot. And he can make an outside shot with guys in his face. He did that in the first half."
Hill, who played all 32 minutes, said he's about "95 percent" after his recovery from thoracic outlet syndrome.
"My conditioning, sometimes I can be out of breath when I'm playing hard," Hill said. "But for the most part, I'm almost there."
East senior James White went down with an injury to his left ankle with 2:50 left in the game. White's status for Friday is unknown.
Contact reporter David Wilhelm at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2665.