BELLEVILLE — Belleville East coach Abel Schrader will be the first to say that there are more talented players on the Lancers' roster than junior Brady Schanuel.
But few are more competitive.
On Friday, the 6-foot-2 Schanuel sparked a sluggish Lancers' offense with six first-half points and East made 13 of 15 from the foul line in the fourth quarter to key a 59-54 win over East St. Louis.
Coming off a lackluster performance in a loss to Belleville West on Tuesday, the Lancers trailed 9-2 early and by as many as nine points in the first half, before Schanuel combined with teammates Austin Cox and Darreon Reddick to pull them to within 21-20 by halftime.
"What Brady may lack athletically, he more than makes up for it with desire and hustle. Whenever he goes into the game, you know he's always going to play hard. He gave us a lift,'' Schrader said. "I also thought Austin (Cox) had a nice game and scored some points and Darreon (Reddick) also played well.
"We did a good job from the foul line. We made 16 of 19 for the game and that's pretty good.''
Reddick led the way for East (14-6, 5-2) with 18 points -- including 12 in the second half -- while Cox and Schanuel finished with 12 apiece.
Cameron Hunter chipped in with 11 points for East, which rebounded from its loss to the Maroons three days earlier.
"You know how tough the Southwestern Conference is. You've got to be ready each night and against West, I just didn't think we played with much emotion and they did. Tonight, we played with a little more emotion,'' Schrader said. "I thought we came back well tonight. This is a big win."
East St. Louis (12-6, 4-3) used a balanced attack to build a 17-8 lead early in the second quarter following a basket by Antonio Johnson.
But the Lancers closed the half with a rush. An offensive putback by Cortez Holman had the Lancers within one at halftime.
"We had a chance to be up by more than that. We just couldn't make a layup and I bet we missed at least six or seven,'' Flyers coach Tony Young said. "We're just not playing well right now. It's a long season and with the schedule we've played, it's been tough.
"Every team goes through slumps. We're going through one right now.''
With Cox opening the third quarter with a short jumper and Reddick hitting a 15-footer from the baseline, East seized the lead and owned a 38-35 advantage.
Hunter and Cox then scored to open the final quarter and when Hunter scored on conventional three-point play with 6:27 remaining, the Lancers had their biggest lead at 45-37.
The Flyers rallied, cutting the lead to 47-43 on a basket by Darrion Beane, but the Lancers were nearly perfect from the foul line in the final five minutes.
Hunter, who scored nine of his 11 points in the final quarter, made 5-of-6 from the free-throw line while Reddick converted on 6-of-7 attempts to keep the Lancers in front.
Beane led East St. Louis with 14 points.