Another big run was the difference again Thursday for the Edwardsville Tigers.
The Tigers, locked in a 10-10 tie in the first quarter with Belleville East, used a 24-6 outburst to take control and defeat the Lancers 70-33 in the championship game of the Class 4A Collinsville Regional.
It was the 14th consecutive regional championship for Edwardsville (28-0), which will play Southwestern Conference foe O’Fallon or Springfield in the semifinals of the Normal Sectional at 7 p.m. Monday at Collinsville High School.
“I don’t even think about that side of it,” 15th-year Tigers coach Lori Blade said of the long string of regional titles. “We just try to go game by game. I’m proud of their effort, and no, it does not get old.”
Four players reached double figures for Edwardsville, led by junior Rachel Pranger’s 16 points. Junior Myriah Noodel-Haywood had 15 points, senior Makenzie Silvey added 13 and senior Criste’on Waters finished with 12 and went over 1,000 for her career.
Pranger also led the Tigers with 10 rebounds. Junior Kate Martin had nine points.
“It feel good to be a part of the 1,000-point club,” Waters said. “(There’s me), Rachel, Makenzie, and I don’t think Kate is too far away. It’s a good feeling all the way around.”
The Lancers, who lost to Edwardsville for the third time this season, finished 20-10. East committed 22 turnovers and was outrebounded 40-18.
“We came out just how we wanted to,” East coach Amanda Kemezys said. “The first quarter, we were able to catch them off guard a little bit. We came out with more energy and were making smart decisions.
“But in the second quarter, one thing led to another. They made some adjustments and hurt us inside. We made some silly turnovers and didn’t have an answer for them on the boards.”
A layup by Lancers sophomore Kaylah Rainey knotted the game at 10 with 2:10 to play in the first quarter. Edwardsville reeled off the next seven points to move ahead 17-10, but East trimmed the deficit to 17-14 on a basket and two free throws by Rainey.
But in the final 6:14 of the period, Edwardsville outscored East 17-2 to lead 34-16 at the intermission, as six different players contributed points. It was all bad news for the Lancers from that juncture.
East trailed 50-23 after three and fell behind 68-26 with three minutes to play.
“We were floating along a little bit (early),” Blade said. “But I thought our intensity got a little bit better, and we knocked some shots down, which always helps.”
Blade, whose team outscored East St. Louis 33-2 en route to a 66-19 victory in the semifinals Tuesday, said large runs like that and the one Thursday are “unusual in the postseason.”
“But these kids are capable of that,” she said. “We need to learn to grind it out a little bit, and we did. But East did a good job of speeding us up early. Then we settled in.”
Rainey led the Lancers with 13 points before fouling out. Sophomore Bryce Dowell had eight points and two 3-pointers.
Waters chipped in with seven rebounds for the Tigers, and Martin had six assists and four steals. Silvey had three 3-pointers.
East made eight of its 11 free throws, but just 11 of its 40 shots from the field (28 percent). Edwardsville was 22 of 61 from the floor (36 percent).