BELLEVILLE — The Belleville West Maroons needed the win for a variety of reasons, including the preservation of both their self-confidence and their seeding for the regional tournament.
Imani Berry scored 16 points and Jesheon Cooper added 14 points as the Maroons beat the Belleville East Lancers 59-44 Tuesday in a Southwestern Conference girls game.
The Maroons avenged a 39-38 loss to the Lancers on Dec. 17.
"We played so much smarter, shared the ball a little better and we hit our free throws,'' said West coach Clayton Fisher, whose team sank 19 of its 25 free-throw attempts. "I'm very happy for the win. We needed to win for a lot of reasons. Conference-wise and regional seeding-wise this was a big win for us. I don't think there would have been any doubt about seeding Belleville East ahead of us if they had beaten us twice. I would have had no problem with that.''
The Maroons (10-4, 3-2) also got 11 points from Alliyah St. John and nine points from both Shay Fluker and Ali Hanger.
The Lancers double-teamed Cooper, daring St. John and Hanger to hurt them.
"We don't plan on Alliyah and Ali scoring, but we plan on them playing smart and making free throws when they get the opportunity,'' Fisher said. "Ali was 6-for-6 from the line and she hit a big 3 for us. That's exactly what we expect out of her offensively. No more. We're not asking her to play like Imani and Shay where she is driving to the hole and finishing.''
The Lancers were led by Montira Mosby, who poured in 19 of her game-high 27 points in the fourth quarter to keep the Maroons from pulling away.
"She is a great player,'' East coach Andrea Seipp said. "She is fun to watch, fun to coach. I think the difference was that for Belleville West their role players really stepped up tonight.''
The Lancers led 4-2 after a basket off a spin move by Montira Mosby and a layup by Brynesha Mosby, but the Maroons went on am 11-0 run that was capped by a three-point play by Berry.
The Maroons led 13-6 at the end of the first quarter and stretched that advantage to 23-12 on a two free throws by Hanger with 2.4 seconds left in the second quarter.
"We just didn't come very well in the first half,'' Seipp said. "I thought we played well defensively. We just got beat on the boards and made too many turnovers in first half. Not enough urgency on offense. We just could never get into any kind of an offensive flow.''
The Lancers cut their deficit to 27-18 on a basket by Ryley Blomberg, but the Maroons closed out the third quarter with seven unanswered points.
St. John hit a 3-pointer with four seconds left in the period to put the Maroons ahead 36-21.
A 3-pointer by Hanger pushed the Maroons' advantage to 18 points with 5:50 left.
The Lancers got within 11 points on a 3-pointer by Montira Mosby with 3:25 remaining, but that's as close as they would get.
The Maroons also got seven rebounds from Cooper, whose rebound basket with 2:44 to go gave the Maroons a 15-point cushion.
Cooper had seven rebounds, while St. John had five assists.
"I thought Jesheon Cooper was excellent,'' Fisher said. "When we got her the ball, she finished tonight.''
Contact reporter Steve Korte at email@example.com or 239-2522.