O'FALLON — Christmas came early for the Belleville East Lancers on Friday at the O'Fallon Panther Dome.
And Darreon Reddick played Santa Claus.
Reddick delivered the goods in a big way when he nailed a 15-foot baseline jumper with 6.3 seconds remaining to cap a miraculous rally as East nipped O'Fallon 52-51 in a Southwestern Conference classic.
Trailing by as many as 11 points in the fourth quarter, East (5-3, 2-1) went on an 8-0 run in just over a minute to get back into the game.
Following a crucial 10-seconds call on the Panthers, Reddick brought East to within 51-50 with under 40 seconds left in the game.
The Panthers Isaiah Armstrong was fouled with 23 seconds left but missed both free throws, thus setting up Reddick's dramatic shot.
"It was the shot man. Wide open, I just had to hit it for my team,'' Reddick said. "We were down but we came back and got the win.''
O'Fallon (5-5, 2-2) had one last chance but a half-court shot by Donovan Franklin fell well short of the mark.
"This is a very big win for us. We knew there would be a night when we would have to battle and scrap and win won on the road and tonight we beat a very good O'Fallon team that I feel has as much athletic ability as anybody in the conference,'' Lancers coach Abel Schrader said.
"The difference in the last five minutes? We hit the shots. I thought we had good looks all night and we didn't make them until the last five minutes of the game. The kids didn't quit. I'm proud of their effort.''
O'Fallon, getting 18 points from Franklin, used a big third quarter to grab a 38-33 lead.
That advantage grew to 45-34 with just under five minutes remaining following a short jumper by senior Isaiah Armstrong but the Lancers rallied.
Following a basket by senior Cortez Holman, Domonic Blaylock hit a 3-point shot and Reddick followed with back-to-back short jumpers to get East to within 45-42.
Later in the quarter, Franklin gave O'Fallon a 51-45 lead, but two crucial turnovers down the stretch and a couple of missed free throws proved to be the downfall for O'Fallon.
"We made some mistakes in the end. We had a couple of turnovers which were costly and East made the shots,'' O'Fallon coach Rick Gibson said.