Tigers start fast, rip Belleville East

News-DemocratMarch 1, 2014 

— Belleville East and the Edwardsville Tigers were polar opposites Friday.

Edwardsville shot 61 percent from the field (23-for-38) and committed just two turnovers in its 57-36 conquest of the Lancers in the Southwestern Conference finale for both teams.

East shot 38 percent (13-for-34) and was victimized by buzzer-beating 3-pointers at the end of the first and second quarters.

"That was definitely how we wanted to end the regular season," Tigers senior point guard Shawn Roundtree said. "It's great team camaraderie going into the playoffs, and that's what we need."

Senior Armon Fletcher led all scorers with 22 points for SWC champion Edwardsville (24-2, 12-2 SWC). Roundtree added 20 points and senior Darian Brown scored 11.

The Lancers (18-9, 9-5) fell behind 7-0 in the first 4 minutes, 43 seconds and never threatened the Tigers. Senior Darreon Reddick was the lone East player in double figures with 13 points.

"We didn't play exceptionally well," said Lancers coach Abel Schrader, whose team was charged with five of its seven turnovers in the first quarter when the Tigers assumed control. "They were doing different things on defense (and) we never got into a rhythm. ... We didn't play well, we didn't coach well. It wasn't our night."

Fletcher's layup put Edwardsville ahead 11-3 with 2:38 left in the first quarter, which ended when Brown popped a 3 from the left corner as time expired, giving the Tigers a 14-7 lead.

Reddick kept East in contention when his second 3-pointer of the game cut the Tigers' lead to 14-10 early in the second quarter. But Roundtree's 3 from about 25 feet out ended the first half, putting Edwardsville on top 32-16 at the break.

"I saw the time running out, but I had the confidence to step into my shot like any other shot," Roundtree said. "It went in and the crowd went crazy. It was fun."

The Tigers' advantage grew to 46-24 after three quarters and ballooned to 55-26 in the fourth quarter before the Lancers closed the game with a 10-2 run.

"I thought defensively, we did a lot of things really well," Edwardsville coach Mike Waldo said. "Darius (Crochrell) did an excellent job against 14 (Reddick). Darius is really good at that; he's done a lot of things for us defensively."

Two other offensive highlights for the Tigers came in the second half.

In the third quarter, Roundtree's midcourt steal led to a runout. Sensing Reddick on his heels, Roundtree adeptly maneuvered from the right side of the rim to the left for an easy layup, denying the longer Reddick of what would have been an easy block.

In the fourth quarter, senior Trevor Clay made a perfect lob pass to Fletcher, who capitalized with an easy dunk.

"We played them at home and we allowed, in overtime, 46 points," Schrader said of a 46-42 loss to the Tigers on Dec. 10 in Belleville. "Tonight they did anything they wanted. We were not in it mentally, we did not look good defensively, we did not look good offensively. They put it to us tonight.

"I thought we would play well. I thought we had a nice win Tuesday against Collinsville. Now, this is a very good (Edwardsville) ballclub. I think we're good. We've got to get better. What we've done all year is guard people a lot better than we did tonight."

Edwardsville will play SWC foe Granite City in the first round of the Quincy Regional on Tuesday at a site to be determined. A victory would advance the Tigers into the championship game on Friday against Quincy or Alton.

"This is great confidence going into the postseason," Roundtree said. "This is what we need. We're gearing up to make a great run."

Contact reporter David Wilhelm at dwilhelm@bnd.com or 239-2665. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidMWilhelm.

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