Belleville East sophomores Bryce Dowell and Jalia Parker combined for eight points in overtime Thursday as the Lancers held off Central 59-54 in a wild non-conference girls basketball game at Central High School.
The Lancers (17-9), who trailed by as many as 11 points in the first quarter, saw a 10-point lead disappear in the fourth quarter as Central (14-13) rallied behind junior Faye Meissner. Meissner, who finished with a game-high 29 points, was aided by clutch play from Olivia Wesselmann and Carson Newkirk.
Newkirk, a 5-foot-10 sophomore, tied the game with at 47 with 7.4 seconds remaining in regulation.
But the Lancers, who lost their top two scorers — Kaylah Rainey and Brittney Nitz — in the fourth quarter when both fouled out, got key contributions from Dowell and Parker early in the four-minute overtime session to take control of the game.
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“We knew it would be tough coming in here to play. Coach (Nathan) Rueter does such a great job in preparing his team. But I was pleased at how our girls responded in the overtime period,” Lancers coach Amanda Kemezys said. “As tough as it was to lose Kaylah and Brittney to fouls, it was great to see that we had some other kids step up and make plays in big situations.
“Bryce (Dowell) and Jailyn McClenny both played well, but we had several girls step up and make big plays.”
In a game that featured 49 fouls, East struck first in the overtime period. Dowell scored on a short jumper, and after McClenny connected on a free throw with 3:11 left, Dowell scored again to give East a 52-47 lead.
But as she did all night, Meissner responded with a 3-point play to bring her team back to within 52-50 with 1:54 remaining.
But Parker and McClenny combined to make 4 of 6 from the foul line on the Lancers’ next three possessions, and Central would get no closer.
Dowell, who scored four points late in the first quarter as East rallied from an early 15-4 deficit, led the Lancers with 15 points. McClenny and Rainey added 12 points each. Rainey also added nine steals.