BELLEVILLE — The final 44 seconds of the second quarter laid the foundation for Belleville East's big second half Tuesday.
The host Lancers turned a 20-18 deficit into a 22-20 halftime lead, then went on a 23-3 run after the break en route to a 52-32 victory over Belleville West in a Southwestern Conference game.
Senior Darreon Reddick scored a game-high 19 points for the Lancers, who also collected 14 points from senior Austin Cox.
"We haven't been scoring that many points," the 6-foot-3 Reddick said. "I blame it on me sometimes --like scoring seven points (Friday against East St. Louis).
"I just came out (against West) with the mind-set that we were going to play hard on defense and (if) we were aggressive on offense, we should win."
The Lancers, who scored more than 50 points for the first time since their season opener against Mahomet-Seymour, improved to 4-3 overall and 1-2 in the SWC. West fell to 2-4 and 1-2.
"They had some struggles," East coach Abel Schrader said of the Maroons. "I don't know if that was because of our defense or whatever. But for once, we were on the other side of that. In the last few games, we've kind of been struggling offensively.
"Tonight, they missed some shots. I thought our kids played hard defensively; I thought we played, for the most part, four quarters."
The Maroons trailed 18-11 in the second quarter, but a 9-0 run produced a 20-18 lead with 1:19 left in the half.
But Reddick hit a 16-footer and Cox followed a missed layup by senior Cameron Hunter with his second dunk of the half, putting the Lancers ahead 22-20.
The Maroons, after taking their two-point lead on junior Eugene Jones' basket, didn't score again until junior Nick Givens made it 30-22 with 4:51 to play in the third quarter.
After Givens' basket, West's next bucket didn't come until senior Kyle Sweeney scored in the lane with 3:20 left in the game. By that time, the Lancers led 45-25.
"I felt really good going into the half," West coach Joe Muniz said. "We just didn't make any shots the third quarter, and when you don't make shots, it's a little demoralizing. Give them credit. They took it right to us and we didn't have an answer.
"They just blitzed us. They're extremely athletic. They were playing at a different level than what our guys were. It's a disappointing loss."
Jones led the Maroons with 14 points.
The 6-3 Cox opened the Lancers' scoring with a baseline dunk less than two minutes into the game, and he topped it with his follow of Hunter's miss with 20 seconds to play in the half.
"Austin Cox had the two big dunks," Reddick said. "The one at the beginning of the game got our energy going and made us play hard. Then he had the tip dunk and we just kept bringing the energy up after that. He's probably the best athlete in the school."
Schrader said the game was important for the Lancers' confidence level. They were coming off losses to Edwardsville and East St. Louis, perhaps the top two teams in the league.
"Early on in the season, you don't want to pinpoint a game that's too important," Schrader said. "But going 0-2 at the start --losing to two good teams --just for our kids' mentality and our demeanor, and getting our kids feeling better about themselves, I thought this was an important game."
Muniz said the Maroons will get better, but it won't be easy.
"I think this team will improve as the season goes on, but we're a long way away from competing in this Southwestern Conference," he said. "We need to match the intensity of the opponent, and we didn't do that tonight very well."
Contact reporter David Wilhelm at email@example.com or 239-2665.