GODFREY — The Belleville West Maroons knew long before the opening tipoff Tuesday evening that even perfection might not be good enough to knock off mighty Edwardsville at the Class 4A Normal West Sectional.
However, on this night against the unbeaten Tigers, the Maroons were anything but perfect.
Seniors Emmonnie Henderson and Lauren White were two of four Tigers to hit 3-point shots early in the opening minutes as unbeaten Edwardsville (30-0) blasted out to a 20-3 first-quarter lead and rolled to a 68-12 sectional semifinal win at Alton High School.
Soundly defeated by the Tigers in two Southwestern Conference contests during the regular season, Belleville West (22-8) was never in the game as a 3-of-32 shooting performance and a whopping 24 turnovers sealed it demise.
The Tigers also outscored Belleville West 30-0 during a 11-minute stretch late in the second and for much of the third quarter as it turned a 23-5 lead into a 53-5 demolition against a Maroons team which placed second in the SWC and won the Collinsville Regional last week.
"I didn't realize that. If it was a 30-0 run, that's awesome. I'll take that in any postseason game,'' Tigers coach Lori Blade said. "We hit the four 3-pointers early and that's important if teams are going to play box-and-1 or triangle-and-2 against us. If we've got other kids who are going to hit shots like they did tonight, its going to pull defenses out."
"The defense was the key though. I thought the kids played great defense for a postseason game.''
The win lifts Edwardsville, ranked first in the Class 4A state poll, into the sectional final Thursday evening where the Tigers will take on Peoria Richwoods at 7:30 p.m. at Normal West High School.
The Knights advanced to the title tilt when they defeated Minooka 39-22 in the other semifinal on Tuesday.
Henderson scored inside and senior Sydney Bloch added two baskets before West got on the scoreboard on a basket by sophomore Shay Fluker to cut the lead to 6-2. That basket would be the last for West until reserve Sam Schell nailed a 3-point shot early in the fourth quarter.
It was simply one of those nights for the outmatched Maroons.
"I'd like to stand here and tell you that Edwardsville played magnificently and that we played hard but just lost. The truth is that they could have beaten us tonight with their 'D' game let alone their 'A' game,'' Belleville West coach Clayton Fisher said. "We had a little bit of a flu bug, but that's not an excuse.
"We were just lethargic. We had no energy. I'll take the blame for that. We just couldn't get going. We were a step slow on everything all night and didn't move.''
Leading 23-5 at halftime, the Tigers were simply invincible in the third quarter.
Forcing eight Belleville West turnovers which led to many transition baskets, seven Tigers players tallied points in the third period which saw Edwardsville outscore Belleville West 23-2 and take s 54-7 lead.
Henderson paced Edwardsville with 15 points while Lauren White added 14. Kourtney Dunbar and Alliyah Covington scored 12 each for the Tigers.
Contact reporter Dean Criddle at 239-2661 or firstname.lastname@example.org