HIGHLAND — Less than 24 hours after surviving some lackluster play in an overtime win at Collinsville, the Belleville East Lancers weren't as fortunate Saturday at the Highland Optimist-Scott Credit Union Basketball Shootout.
Perennial St. Louis power DeSmet got a game-high 16 points from sparkplug guard Jimmy Barton, while three teammates combined for 32 points in a 63-54 defeat of the Lancers.
Getting an emotional lift from the season debut of Butler University recruit Nolan Berry, the Spartans (9-4) got a combined 11 points from Barton and Mitch Plassmeyer in the third quarter, as they turned a five-point halftime lead into a 45-32 cushion entering the fourth period.
But despite playing without senior guard Khalil Smith-Traylor, the Lancers rallied.
With Darreon Reddick scoring nine of his 21 points, the Lancers cut the Spartans' lead to 58-54 with under a minute to play.
Plassmeyer then missed the front end of a one-and-one, but Lancers senior Malcolm Hill missed a 3-pointer.
Berry, who missed the Spartans' first 12 games because of an injury, followed with a short jumper on DeSmet's possession to push the lead back to six, all but icing the win.
"You bet having Nolan back in the lineup. How could having a 6-9 Division I player not give a team a lift,'' DeSmet coach Kevin Poelker said. "I thought for his first game he looked pretty good in there.
"The difference in the game? There were several. I thought our pressure hurt them and we really did a nice job on the boards. That's a very good team we beat today.''
Hill led East (13-2) with 23 points, while the 6-3 Reddick added 21. However the third member of the Lancers' top trio -- Smith-Traylor -- was nowhere to be found.
"No comment,'' Lancers coach Abel Schrader said when asked about Smith-Traylor.
"Once again though, like we did last night against Collinsville, we played well in spurts," Schrader said about the game. "At times, we did a lot of good things. We need to do a better job of rebounding and we need to do a better job on the defensive end of the court. But until we learn to put four good quarters together on a consistent basis, we're going to have games like this one.''
With Hill and Reddick combining for 13 first-quarter points, the Lancers led 14-13 after eight minutes.
But East went cold.
Plagued by four turnovers and outhustled on the boards, the Lancers were outscored 10-4 in the second quarter, which ended with the Spartans leading 23-18.
Things got worse in the third quarter.
Getting a pair of short jumpers from Plassmeyer, a putback by Barton and a pair of short jumpers from Berry, DeSmet outscored East 22-14 and took a 45-32 lead into the final period.
"I thought we did a much better job of moving the basketball in the second half and we got everyone involved in the offense,'' Poelker said. "We were also able to get some transition baskets and that really helped us maintain the momentum.
"Defensively, Hill and Reddick hurt us, but I thought we made them earn everything they got. Like I said, this was a big win for us.''