BELLEVILLE — It was another close game in this city rivalry.
Imani Berry and Shay Fluker combined for 30 points as the Belleville West Maroons edged the Belleville East Lancers 48-45 Friday in a Southwestern Conference girls basketball game.
The Maroons nipped the Lancers 53-52 on a basket by Berry at the buzzer on Dec. 11.
"We've won two games by total of four points,'' West coach Clayton Fisher said. "I would say this: That's how close these two teams are.''
Berry had 16 points, while Fluker had 14 points, including two key 3-pointers that enabled the Maroons to build up a 13-point advantage in the third quarter.
Fluker started off slow, making only one of her eight shots in the first half, but she heated up and scored 11 of her points in the second half.
"After halftime, I had to come out and show what I really had,'' Fluker said. "I had to step it up a notch and score more.''
"The only thing I told her was to be ready to shoot when catches the ball,'' Fisher said of Fluker. "She is a very nice 3-point shooter. Our best shot is her shooting 3-pointers, Imani shooting layups and Jesheon (Cooper) shooting 1-footers also. That's kind of what we're geared for. That's what we do on offense.''
Cooper also chipped in 10 points for the Maroons ((11-5, 5-1), who registered their sixth win in their last eight games.
"It was a nice conference win for us,'' Fisher said. "We've lost once in the conference, and we want to distance ourselves from the people behind us and try to get guaranteed at least top two or top three in the conference.''
Aniecia Brewster led the Lancers with 19 points. Montira Mosby added 11 points.
"It's a rivalry," East coach Andrea Seipp said of playing the Maroons. "The kids all know each other, we're both very athletic. I just hope we get a chance to play them again in the postseason.''
Belleville East and Belleville West are assigned to the Class 4A Collinsville Regional along with the host Kahoks, Granite City and O'Falon.
The Lancers trailed by seven going into the fourth quaretr and they eventually closed the gap to two points on a 3-pointer by Brewster with 1:32 left in the fourth quarter.
Cooper scored inside with 1:24 left to put the Maroons back ahead by four.
Brynesha Mosby hit two free throw with 18 seconds remaining to again draw the Lancers within two.
Fluker made the first of two free throws with 14 seconds to go, but the second attempt rattled out.
"I could have made both of them,'' Fluker said. "I have been practicing. I think I just got nervous and missed one.''
The Lancers called timeout with 9.6 seconds left.
The Lancers got off potential game-tying 3-pointers by Erin Holl and Brewster in the final nine seconds, but both were off the mark.
The Lancers committed 23 turnovers. They had eight turnovers in the first quarter as they fell behind and could never make up all the lost ground.
"Too many turnovers,'' Seipp said. "I don't know if even one time in the first half we executed an offense. I give Belleville West credit. They are probably the best team defensively that we've played all year. They just put constant pressureon all positions, and we just had a problem getting into any kind of an offensive flow.''
Berry had four free throws in leading the Maroons out toa 6-0 lead. They stretched that lead to 14-6 on a 3-pointer by Berry.
A free throw by Mosby trimmed the Lancers' deficit to 16-11 neat the end of the first quarter. Mosby sank two more free throws to get the Lancers within 18-15 with 4:27 left in the second quarter.
The Maroons closed out the half with an 8-4 run to go up 26-19. A rebound basket by Kari Gaskill, who had six points off the bench in the first half, capped the surge.
Contact reporter Steve Korte at email@example.com or 239-2522.