SALEM — The Edwardsville Tigers continued to make themselves at home Friday at the Salem Invitational.
Frustrated by the patience of Effingham for the first 2 1/2 quarters, the defending champion Tigers used a 13-1 scoring run to break the game open and went on to a 54-35 semifinal win.
Using a deliberate offense and 12 points from 6-foot, 6-inch senior Jake Strombaugh, Effingham (11-5) led by as many as six points in the second quarter and trailed the Class 4A state power Tigers just 25-19 at halftime.
But with senior Garret Covington scoring seven of his 15 points in the third quarter, Edwardsville (17-1) took control.
Leading just 27-24 with four minutes left in the third period, Edwardsville scored 13 of the quarter's final 14 points and led 40-25 heading into the fourth quarter.
"On defense, I thought we took it up a notch and were able to get some baskets, which helped us increase our lead,'' Tigers coach Mike Waldo said. "Their patience on offense slowed us down in the first half and there weren't that many possessions.
"But in the second half, we did a better job of playing at a faster tempo. We did a good job on the boards on both ends of the floor. We didn't give up many offensive rebounds and I thought (Garret) Covington played a very good game for us.
The win moves Edwardsville into the title game at 8 p.m. Saturday against Centralia. The Orphans (14-4) defeated Triad 50-26 in Friday's other semifinal.
Edwardsville, which has finished no lower than third in every Salem Tournament since 2000, will be out for its seventh title during that span.
Effingham, led by Strombaugh, who connected on five of his first six shots, led 17-16 before the Tigers' Tre' Harris hit two free throws with 3:15 left in the second quarter to give Edwardsville its first lead.
Harris and Darius Crochrell then scored and when reserve guard Dan Marinko hit a 3-pointer in the final seconds of the half, Edwardsville owned a 25-19 lead.
"We had to try and control the tempo, because they (Edwardsville) are so athletic," Effingham coach Ron Reed said. "I thought we did a good job for most of the first half.
"We had some turnovers and they hurt us on the boards. I was pleased with our effort.''
Covington scored twice during the Tigers' 13-1 third-quarter run.
Harris added 14 for Edwardsville. Strombaugh topped the Flaming Hearts with 17 points.
Centralia 50, Triad 26
After a thrilling last-second win against Marion on Thursday, the Knights (5-12) were cold from the outset as they fell to the Orphans.
Triad, getting some strong play from Cole Moss, led throughout much of the first quarter, but the Knights managed just 16 points over the final three quarters.
Moss led Triad with seven points. Jake Wood, a 6-2 junior, paced Centralia with 13 points.
Triad will play Effingham in the third-place game at 5 p.m. today.