MASCOUTAH — Belleville East coach Andrea Seipp is still anxiously awaiting a time when the Lancers put two halves of basketball together on a consistent level.
But on Thursday one half was good enough.
Montira Mosby and Aniecia Brewster combined for 32 points and the Lancers held off a second half Freeburg rally for a 51-49 win in the opening game of the 35th annual Mascoutah Girls Basketball Invitational.
Dominating the offensive glass and getting a combined 26 points from the athletic Mosby and Brewster, the Lancers (8-5) led by as many as 16 points in the second quarter and by a 33-21 margin at halftime.
But it was a different story in the second half as behind junior Chelsea Hill and Lauren Mense, the Midgets (3-9) closed to within a single point four times in the fourth quarter and saw three potential game-tying shots fall off the rim in the final seven seconds.
"Montira and Aniecia played very well in the first half. I thought they may have backed off a little bit in the second half when I would liked to have seen them continue to attack the basket,'' Seipp said. "We talk all the time about playing hard for an entire 32 minutes because when we don't we have some vulnerability.
"The difference was that we played to win in the first half and in the second half we played not to lose.''
An offensive putback by Freeburg senior Rachel Keseman with 39 seconds remaining closed the Midgets to within a basket. East senior Melissa Bridges missed a free throw with under 10 seconds remaining, but the Midgets couldn't get the potential game-tying shot to fall as time expired.
Montira Mosby had 18 points to lead East while Brewster chipped in with 14. Hill had 18 points for Freeburg.
Highland 66, Althoff 46
Sophomore Olivia LaPorta scored 15 of her 23 points in the first half to key the red-hot Bulldogs who coasted into the quarterfinals with an easy win over the Crusaders.
Highland (7-5) led 17-12 after one quarter but blew the game open with a 25-13 second quarter surge as it took a 42-25 advantage at intermission.
LaPorta, a 5-10 forward, keyed the spurt with 10 second quarter points.
"We (the coaches) came into this season with high expectations and while we came into the tournament with a good record (6-5) we've been a little up down. Today we came out and played very well.'' Bulldogs coach Stephanie Harris said. "We've got good depth and we don't lose much when we go to the bench.
"I thought we moved the ball well and did a good job on their big girl (Kymber Hill).
Hill, a University of Massachusetts recruit, led Althoff with 20 points.
Central 81, Northwest (Mo.) 38
The Cougars started fast and didn't let up as they cruised into the quarterfinals with the lopsided win.
The top-ranked Class 2A team in the state, Central (12-1) forced 13 first quarter turnovers and to build a 24-4 lead and were never threatened after the first two minutes of the contest.
"I was pleased at how we came out of the gate. We set the tone early,'' Cougars coach Nathan Rueter said. "This was a good game for us because everybody got playing time and I thought we played well.''
Freshman Kendra Wilken led Central with 20 points, while Maddie Timmermann chipped in with 13 and Torre Kohrmann added 12.
Nashville 65, Centralia JV 20
The top-seeded Hornettes (12-0) jumped out to leads of 21-0 after one quarter and 35-2 at halftime as they rolled to the lopsided first round win.
Senior Erica Brown and junior Shawn Rennegarbe scored 14 points each for Nashville while sophomore Jordi Harre added 12. Coach Wayne Harre went to his bench early and often as nine Nashville players scored at least one point.
Belleville West 53, Mount Vernon 35
Sophomore Shay Fluker connected on four 3-point field goals and scored a game high 25 points as the Maroons (8-3) ran past the Rams in first round action.
A lightning quick 5-9 guard, Fluker scored 14 of her points in the first half then made three-of-five from behind the 3-point line in the final two quarters.
"I don't know what she was for sure but it had to be 50 percent or better,'' Maroons coach Clayton Fisher said of Fluker. "Anytime you can shoot 50 percent from the 3-point line you've got to be happy with that.''
Jesheon Cooper added 11 points while Kiarra Daniels had 10 for the Maroons.
Okawville 51, Centralia 31
Senior Megan Wienstroer started off with a hot hand and never cooled off as she connected on seven 3-point shots and scored 34 points as the Rockets (10-4) rolled past the Orphans.
Wienstroer scored 10 points the opening quarter then hit a trio of 3-point shots in the second quarter as Okawville grabbed a 31-24 halftime lead.
Okawville held Centralia to three points over the final 10 minutes.
Mater Dei 64, O'Fallon 46
Emily Koelling scored 18 points while Anna Lampe chipped in with 10 as the second-seeded Knights remained undefeated with the win over the Panthers.
Mater Dei (13-0) led just 16-13 after one quarter then used a 22-14 advantage in the second period to take charge.
O'Fallon got 19 points from junior Jasmine Bonds, but the Panthers couldn't match the inside game of Koelling and Jamie Voss (eight points).
"We like to go inside to Emily and Jamie. We feel they compliment each other very well,'' Knights coach Dave Kohnen said. "I thought they did a good job of finishing today.''
Carbondale 51, Mascoutah 48
McKena Miller scored seven of her 22 points in the fourth quarter as the Terriers rallied for the win.
Carbondale (2-6) trailed 29-26 at halftime before outscoring the Indians (6-6) 25-19 during the final two quarters.
Maddie Nekola led Mascoutah with 16 points while Brittany Zipfel added 14.