BELLEVILLE — The explosive Madison Prep Bears tried to make a late run, but the Belleville East Lancers withstood it.
Malcolm Hill scored 28 points and Darreon Reddick and Cameron Hunter each had 18 points as the Lancers defeated the previously unbeaten Bears 76-68 Saturday in the championship game of the Chick-fil-A (*168*) Classic at Belleville East.
"They made a run,'' East coach Abel Schrader said. "Those guys can shoot the basketball and they're quick, but we were able to sustain that and make some plays and do enough good things defensively and rebounding and stuff. Even though we gave up 68 points, which is a lot, we did enough to win the game. I'm proud of our kids tonight.''
The Lancers improved to 16-3 overall, while the Bears dropped to 16-1.
"Our mindset today was that we have to play hard and we want to prove a point, that we can go against the best competition,'' Hill said. "We knew coming into the game that they were undefeated, and thankfully we handed them their first loss.''
Hill was chosen as the Most Valuable Player of the tourney, spurring chants of "MVP'' from the Belleville East student cheering section.
It was a clean sweep of the three trophy games for Belleville schools as Belleville West took third place and Althoff took fifth place.
Martavian Payne paced the Bears with 27 points. Kevin Baker added 14 points and Anthony Lee and Eric Clark each had 11 points.
"When there are two good teams and they are playing for a championship at any point in time, they are going to compete and play hard,'' Madison Prep coach Tony Irons said. "I thought their team played very hard today. They beat us on the glass, which kind of dictated the whole outcome of the game. They dominated the boards.''
The Bears bolted out to a 16-6 lead.
Despite a steal and breakaway dunk by Hill, the Bears went up 21-12 on a 3-pointer by Eric Clark.
Hill had two baskets and Reddick scored off a spin move as the Lancers scored the final six points of the first quarter to get within 21-18.
The Lancers scored the final nine points of the second quarter to seize the lead away from the Bears.
A layup by Hill capped the run and put the Lancers ahead 35-30.
Hunter converted a three-point play to start the second half and extend the Lancers' lead to eight points.
The Bears wrestled the lead away from the Lancers on a 3-pointer by Payne with 3:15 left in the third quarter.
The Lancers trailed by six after another 3-pointer from Payne, but a dunk by Hill off an alley-oop pass from James White with five seconds left in the third quarter trimmed their deficit to two points, 53-51.
A tip-in by Miles Nettles closed the gap to one point, but Hill scored inside and Hunter was fouled intentionally on a breakway layup.
Hunter sank both free throws and Reddick nailed a 3-pointer on the ensuing position to put the Lancers ahead 66-58 with 2:46 left.
"Darreon hitting that 3 might have been a little bit of heartbreaker for them,'' Schrader said. "He misses that and maybe the game is a little different down the stretch, but he stepped up and made a big play at a clutch moment. He has been very good for us.''
Two free throws by White with 49 seconds remaining and a steal and breakaway layup by Hill with 42 seconds remaining gave the Lancers a nine-point cushion.
Tarrance Atkins's two free throws with 25 seconds to go helped seal the win.
Belleville West 58, Oakville 52
Nick Van Osdale tossed in 28 points, including five free throws in the final 31 seconds, in leading the Maroons over the Oakville (Mo.) Tigers in the third-place game.
The Maroons were 8-for-11 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter to keep the Tigers at bay.
"We're a good free-throw shooting team,'' West coach Joe Muniz said. "I think we're shooting 73 or 74 percent as a team. We want to shoot a lot of free throws. In my opinion, if you are a good free-throw shooting team, those are easy points you can get from the line. That's kind of what we want to do.''
The Maroons (12-5) also got 11 points from Markkies Goodwin and nine points from Donnie Foster.
The Tigers (8-6) were led by 6-foot-5 junior Ervin Sarajlic with 24 points and 6-10 junior Austin Gillmann with 13.
With no regular over 6-foot-3, the Maroons swarmed around Gillmann every time he got the ball.
"Like I told them in the locker room, it was a team defensive effort guarding him because we kind of surrounded him when he got the ball,'' Muniz said. "I thought the biggest reason he had trouble getting the ball was the guards up front with Isaiah (Lewis), Nick and D.J. (Owens). They did a real good job of pressuring their guards to where they were too far away from the basket to get it into (him).''
The Maroons kept the lead the entire second half after using a 9-0 run late in the second quarter to pull ahead 28-23.
Sarajlic scored on a layup to cut the Tigers' deficit to 28-25 at the end of the second quarter.
The Tigers got within a point after a free throw by Sarajlic with 23 seconds left in the third quarter, but the Maroons got a bucket from Kyle Sweeney off a pass from Van Osdale with two seconds remaining in the third quarter.
The Maroons went up by 10 points after two free throws by Van Osdale with 3:31 to go.
The Tigers drew within four points with 1:11 on the clock.
Van Osdale made two free throws after a technical foul was called on the Tigers with 31 seconds left, and he added two more free throws 21 seconds left and another free throw with 8.7 seconds left.
Althoff 59, McCluer 47
Althoff's depth helped them bounce back from a tough loss less than 24 hours earlier as the Crusaders beat the McCluer Comets in the fifth-place game.
"It lets you know what kind of a character of a team you have,'' Althoff coach Greg Leib said of his team's performance in the fifth-place game. "You can teach offense, you can teach how to shoot, you can teach all sort of things. You can't teach effort or heart, and the boys did a real good job tonight of showing up to play and possessing a lot of heart.''
The Crusaders (10-8), who suffered a 62-52 loss to Belleville West on Friday night, had six players score between six and 12 points.
Kevin Renner led the way with 12 points, followed by Brendon Gooch with 10 points, Erik Furmanek with nine points, Luke Frazier with seven points and Eric Mertens and Grant Strieker each with six points.
"I knew we would be gassed (after a) tough game against Belleville East, (a) tough game against Belleville West,'' Leib said. "I knew the starters legs might be a little taxed, and I thought our bench gave us some excellent minutes tonight and really played well.''
The Crusaders led 12-6 thanks to a 3-pointer by Keenan Young at the buzzer ending the first quarter.
Althoff increased its lead to 16-6 on two baskets by Gooch at the start of the second quarter.
With the help of a 3-pointer by Frazier late in the second quarter, the Crusaders maintained a 19-12 advantage at halftime.
The Crusaders scored the first seven points of the third quarter to go up 26-12.
The Comets drew within seven points twice in the third quarter, but a 3-pointer by Mertens with four seconds left gave the Crusaders a 13-point, 38-25 cushion at the end of the third quarter.
The Comets (1-11) could get no closer than nine points in the final quarter.
McCluer's Shacquille Edwards led all scorers with 22 points.
Contact reporter Steve Korte at email@example.com or 239-2522.