EAST ST. LOUIS — East St. Louis coach Tony Young had no real explanation for the Flyers 'flat' first quarter Friday, which saw them make one shot and fall behind Belleville West by a 10-2 margin.
Thankfully for the Flyers, things were a whole lot better the rest of the way.
Junior center Terry Beckner and seniors Darrion Beane and Dominique Nelson all scored in the opening 40 seconds of the third quarter to spark a 16-4 scoring run and East St. Louis went on for a 65-44 win.
Playing a tough zone defense, West (5-16, 2-9) held East St. Louis to a 1-of-14 shooting effort in the first quarter and when Demond White opened the second period with 3-pointer, the Maroons led 13-2.
"We were flat and you can quote me on saying that we were flat early. For some reason we got off to another slow start. We just weren't aggressive with the basketball," Young said. "I don't know why, except to say that they're kids.''
Getting two of their eight 3s from Nelson and Justin Smith, the Flyers battled back to tie the game at 21 at halftime, before outscoring the Maroons 23-9 in the third quarter to build a 44-30 lead.
West would get no closer than 11 points the rest of the night.
The victory, coming just two days after a convincing win over Edwardsville, which is ranked No. 5 in the Associated Press Class 4A poll, improved East St. Louis to 14-7 overall and 6-4 in the SWC.
But for most of the first 10 minutes of the game Friday, it appeared it might be a long night for the Flyers.
"What happened was that we hit some shots and got a little bit of our confidence back. We couldn't make anything early and I thought our defense kept us in the game,'' Young said. "Our depth really paid off for us too.
"We have enough depth to where we can substitute five-for-five and not lose much. I thought some of those guys came in and gave us some energy when we needed it.''
Getting 3-pointers from Eugene Jones and White, the Maroons controlled the first quarter.
But coach Joe Muniz thought his team could have had a bigger lead.
"We were up 10-2 and then 13-2, but we had a chance to be up by more early in the game,'' Muniz said. "We missed some shots and then we started taking shots too quickly.
"If you are going to take shots quickly you better be sure they're going through the net. Otherwise, they (the Flyers) are going to get it and get down the court on transition. That's what happened at the end of the second and in the third quarters.''
Jones, White and Steven Roberts led West with eight points.
Nelson, who connected on 4-of-6 3-point shots, paced East St. Louis with 14 points. Beane and Smith added 10 apiece.
"Dominique can shoot the basketball and he did a good job tonight,'' Young said. "I thought it was a good effort by the team after the first quarter. We just have to learn to come out and be ready to go from the opening tip."