CENTRALIA — Belleville East's furious start made up for its sluggish finish Wednesday.
The Lancers led Mascoutah 34-13 at halftime, then were outscored 20-13 in the second half but still managed a 47-33 victory over the Indians in the Centralia Thanksgiving Tournament.
"We kind of got complacent a little bit in the second half," East coach Abel Schrader said. "We weren't making many shots. Those are some of the growing pains that we have to go through.
"I did think we came out and played a better first half compared to Monday. So I was happy with that. I was a little disappointed with the second half, but again, we did some good things tonight."
Senior Austin Cox paced the Lancers (2-0) with 16 points on 8-for-11 shooting from the field. Senior Darreon Reddick had 14 points and nine rebounds and senior Cameron Hunter had 11 points, all of them in the first half.
The 6-foot-3 Cox accounted for four of the Lancers' six second-half baskets. Cox also dropped in 16 points in East's opener Monday, a 73-72 win in double-overtime against Mahomet-Seymour.
"Austin's maybe our best athlete on the team," Schrader said. "He can really get up and down the floor, he can really jump and he can rebound well. He's very tough when he gets the ball around the block. He's got a little jump hook that he likes to use. Certainly, Austin's a kid we need to play well for us."
Mascoutah played a solid second half as senior Alex Oltmann solidified the perimeter. Oltmann, who didn't play in the first half because of a technical foul he received Monday against Centralia, scored seven of his eight points in the third quarter.
The Indians, after trailing 41-22 heading into the fourth quarter, inched within 41-28 with 5:34 left in the game as Oltmann scored and junior Tim Parks hit a 3-pointer and a free throw. But Mascoutah didn't possess enough firepower to threaten the Lancers.
"Their quickness and their speed and their athleticism, it's tough for us to match up with," said Mascoutah coach Cody Reynolds, whose team was 9-for-36 from the field (25 percent) and fell to 0-2.
"The big thing we talked about at halftime was we were taking a lot of quick shots, long shots, 3-pointers in transition, that we didn't need," he said. "Against a team like this, those 3s lead to long rebounds and that leads to runouts for them."
Senior M.Z. Duprey shared team-high scoring honors for Mascoutah with eight points. The Indians committed 16 turnovers and were just 12-for-21 from the free-throw line (57 percent).
Reynolds is optimistic that the Indians will improve significantly when 6-1 junior Brian Pettiford, a transfer from East, and 6-3 senior Patrick White return from injury in about a week.
"We're a little short-handed right now," Reynolds said. "I told the kids after the game that I was very proud of how they came out and competed in the second half. I thought we executed offensively a lot better. We got better looks, which allowed us to get our defense set a little bit."
The Lancers will face a difficult assignment at 7:45 p.m. Friday when they face tournament host Centralia.
"We're going to be really tested Friday night," Schrader said. "We'll see how our young guys and kids who don't have a lot of varsity experience play in front of more of a crowd and against a very good basketball team."
Contact reporter David Wilhelm at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2665.