Belleville East outscored host Granite City 20-11 in the fourth quarter Friday and hammered out a 52-47 victory that earned the Lancers the outright Southwestern Conference championship.
Senior Malcolm Hill scored a game-high 30 points for the Lancers (24-3 overall, 13-1 SWC), who won their first outright league title since 1997. East shared the conference crown with Edwardsville in 2009 and Collinsville in 2002.
"The credit goes to our kids for staying together as a team, even though we've had maybe some distractions this year," first-year Lancers coach Abel Schrader said. "The credit goes to the kids for how they played.
"I think it's really special, and I think our kids realize this is pretty special, what they accomplished this year. Obviously, the Southwestern Conference is by far the best conference around, in my opinion. We're very excited about where we are at this point."
Junior Cameron Hunter added 10 points for the Lancers, who are seeded first and will play O'Fallon at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in the opening round of the Class 4A O'Fallon Regional.
Senior Omar Walker scored a game-high 18 points for Granite City, which slipped to 11-15 overall and 2-12 in the SWC.
"Granite City was ready to play," Schrader said. "They're a very physical basketball team. There were a lot of fouls (28). We didn't shoot it particularly well, but we made plays down the stretch when we had to and pulled it out. We forced a few turnovers down the stretch and were able to convert."
Althoff 57, Centralia 51, OT
Junior Kevin Renner got the hot hand in the fourth quarter and never cooled off, leading the Crusaders to a victory over Centralia in a South Seven Conference game.
Renner scored 15 of his game-high 22 points in the fourth quarter. He had just four points heading into the fourth quarter, but led the Crusaders' red-hot shooting assault in the second half.
They hit 10 of their final 13 shots on the nights, with Renner nailing his final six in a row.
"The kids did a great job and Kevin Renner really picked us up in the fourth quarter," Althoff coach Greg Leib said. "He picked up his aggressiveness and got into a rhythm. He was able to get that mid-range jumper rolling --and he made it roll."
After missing a couple shots near the end of regulation, Althoff took the lead for good on a 3-pointer by Ryan Marcum. Marcum finished with 10 points as Althoff (13-13) finished in a three-way tie with Carbondale and Mount Vernon for third place in the South Seven at 5-5.
Centralia (19-8, 6-4) got 19 points and 11 rebounds from Jake Wood. The Orphans led by as many as five points in the fourth quarter, but were unable to finish off the Crusaders.
"We really stayed consistent," Leib said. "We kept plugging away and we made the adjustments defensively. The easy baskets we were giving them early we took away, especially in the fourth quarter."
Edwardsville 77, Alton 67
The Tigers, who finished second to East in the SWC, received 22 points from senior Tre' Harris, 21 from senior Garret Covington and 13 from junior Armon Fletcher as they held off Alton.
Edwardsville (25-2, 12-2) will play Granite City or Quincy in the semifinals of the Class 4A Granite City Regional at 6 p.m. Tuesday.
East St. Louis 74, O'Fallon 62
The visiting Flyers (18-7, 10-4) trailed early but pounded out a SWC victory behind 24 points from senior Deshawn Munson. Senior Daniel Williams added 16 points and senior Johnny McCray had 12.
Sophomore Parker Roustio led the Panthers (7-19, 2-12) with 22 points. Senior Charlie Harmon had 14 and sophomore Donovan Franklin had 11.
Madison 59, Carrollton 38
In the Class 1A Carrollton Regional championship game, Marquis Borney poured in 27 points as Madison (17-10) won easily.
Carvel Dixon added 10 points for Madison and Johnny Meitzenheimer had nine as the Trojans grabbed a 16-4 lead after one quarter and never looked back. John Harr had 22 points for Carrollton.
Madison will face Edinburg at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in the semifinals of the Okawville Sectional.