BELLEVILLE — The Chick-fil-A Classic, a six-team round-robin tournament, returns this week to Belleville East High School.
The defending champion Lancers (10-5) are on a three-game winning streak and again hope to make a run at the tournament championship, but it won't be easy as they must first beat Madison College Prep (13-2) in Pool B.
East defeated the Bears 76-68 to take the tournament title last season. Madison College Prep has noteworthy victories this season over East St. Louis and Peoria Manual.
The other team in Pool B is McCluer (0-8).
Pool A consists of favorite Althoff (10-3), Belleville West (3-10) and Normandy (5-7). Althoff has been playing its best basketball of the season in the last two weeks, posting victories over Fort Zumwalt North, previously undefeated Centralia, Marion and Gibault.
The tournament begins Tuesday and continues Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Games will be at 6 and 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday; games Saturday will be at 5, 6:30 and 8 p.m.
Althoff has turned heads with exciting young talent led by sophomores Brendon Gooch and Keenen Young and freshman Jordan Goodwin.
Goodwin averages a touch over 20 points. Gooch, already drawing Division I interest, averages just over 15 points. Young is typically in the middle of the action at both ends of the floor.
Crusaders coach Greg Leib considers senior point guard Kevin Renner the team's glue, and Renner chips in with about 11 points per game. Senior Rick Edwards has given Althoff rebounding and second-chance points.
East has a workmanlike squad led by senior guard Darreon Reddick, who generates 13.4 points and 4.9 rebounds per contest. Seniors Austin Cox (10.7 points, 4.9 rebounds) and Cameron Hunter (8.8 points, 4.4 rebonds) are solid varsity players.
Madison College Prep has four players averaging at least 7.4 points, led by 6-foot-8 senior Arlando Cook (13.4) and 6-0 senior Anthony Lee (9.6). Cook pulls down 9.2 rebounds per game and Lee leads the Bears with 14 3-pointers.
West hasn't clicked on offense, but the Maroons on Saturday showed signs of life in a 78-74 loss to O'Fallon. The 74 points were 19 more than West had scored in any game this season.
Seniors Gerard Fuller (15.8 points), Terrick Blair (14.5) and Romalus Tabb (11.3) are Normandy's leading scorers. The Vikings won their first three games of the season, but have lost seven of nine.
Despite being winless, McCluer has been right with most of its opponents. The Comets are led by sophomore Ryan Warren-Hogue (15.2 points) and senior Chauncey Turner (12.8 points).
Tuesday: Belleville West vs. Normandy, 6 p.m.; Madison College Prep vs. Belleville East, 7:30.
Thursday: McCluer vs. Belleville East, 6 p.m.; Normandy vs. Althoff, 7:30.
Friday: Madison College Prep vs. McCluer, 6 p.m.; Althoff vs. Belleville West, 7:30.
Saturday: Pool A third vs. Pool B third, 5 p.m.; Pool A second vs. Pool B second, 6:30; Pool A first vs. Pool B first, 8.
Contact reporter David Wilhelm at email@example.com or 239-2665.