COLLINSVILLE — Belleville East's big three were front and center Friday.
Senior Malcolm Hill and juniors Cameron Hunter and Darreon Reddick combined for 60 points in the top-seeded Lancers' 63-50 win over Decatur MacArthur in the quarterfinals of the Collinsville-Schnucks Holiday Classic.
Hill, a 6-foot-7 senior headed for the University of Illinois, paved the way with 34 points and was 14-for-16 from the free-throw line. Hunter added 14 points and five rebounds and Reddick had 12 points and six rebounds.
"Malcolm is beginning to get his points," said first-year Lancers coach Abel Schrader, whose team improved to 11-0. "But we've also got other guys in double figures as well. That's what we've got to continue to do. We try to tell them to be unselfish, and for the most part, these guys have bought in."
Hill has 106 points in East's last three games, hitting 3-pointers and medium-range jumpers while also getting to the rim with regularity.
"When I see an opening, I take what's given to me," Hill said. "I try not to force the issue. I try to get my points through running the offense and getting offensive rebounds for easy putbacks."
The Lancers, seeking their second championship in Collinsville in the last three years, will play Southwestern Conference opponent East St. Louis (6-6) in the semifinals at 1 p.m. Saturday. East defeated the Flyers 67-66 on Dec. 7 in Belleville.
"I guarantee you they're the best 6-6 team in the state of Illinois," Schrader said. "Looking back on it, we were fortunate to win at our place against them early. It will be a good game. Hopefully, our guys are ready to play because they will need to bring a lot of energy and effort to win that game."
"It's going to be a tough and physical game like last time," he said. "Hopefully, if we come out and play like we did in the fourth quarter, it won't be a close game."
Flyers coach Tony Young, like Schrader, is in his first season and called the rematch with East "a great opportunity for our guys."
"We lost to Belleville East and it was a heart-breaker," Young said. "Now you go back and get an opportunity to redeem it on a neutral site. This is a fun game for both teams. Belleville East is a great team; they've got great players. And I think we're a better team than when we played them the first time."
East seemed to set the tone against MacArthur in the waning moments of the first half. The Generals, trailing 25-19, were looking for the final shot, but the Lancers' defense pushed them backwards, near midcourt.
MacArthur was forced into a turnover, and Reddick scored on a short jumper at the horn to make it 27-19 at halftime.
"It was potentially a four-point swing," Schrader said. "So absolutely, we came in at halftime feeling a little better about ourselves. That's a good team; they've got some good players. We were fortunate enough to, obviously, win ... and to win it where it wasn't down to the wire."
The Lancers led 30-24 before gaining control with a 12-0 run that made it 42-24 with 1:27 to play in the third quarter. Hill (seven), Hunter (three) and Reddick (two) had all the points in the surge.
East's lead ballooned to 19 points on two occasions in the fourth quarter.
"We turned it up in the second half," Hill said. "We realized we can't just play around. We've got to play aggressive and physical. That's what we did the second half to get the big lead."
Hill said there remains room for improvement.
"We have to pick it up and play 32 minutes because our problem is we think we can turn it on and off," he said. "We've always got to keep it clicking. We were only up by six because we were playing lackadaisical in the second half. Coach yelled at it and got us going, and we took off."
Junior guard Marcus Bartley led MacArthur with 15 points. Bartley played 29 minutes despite having two quick fouls.
The Lancers shot 53 percent (20-for-38) and limited their turnovers to 12. Besides Hill, Hunter and Reddick, East's points came from senior Tarrance Akins (two) and junior Dominic Blaylock (one).
Senior James White did not play for East. White suffered an injury to his left ankle in the fourth quarter of the Lancers' first tournament game Thursday against Riverview Gardens.
Contact reporter David Wilhelm at email@example.com or 239-2665.