Belleville East junior Kaylah Rainey scored 13 points to lead a quartet of players in double figures in a 59-40 win over Mater Dei at the 40th annual Mascoutah Invitational Girls Tournament on Wednesday.
Finally at full strength after battling an ankle injury to start the season, the 5-foot-7 Rainey keyed a 12-0 scoring run in the second quarter with five points, three steals and three assists — all in a two-minute stretch — as the Lancers broke the game open.
With juniors Nyah Ford, Bryce Dowell and B’Aunce Carter adding eight points in the period, East (8-5) took a 34-15 lead into halftime. Mater Dei (8-5) would get no closer than 14 points the rest of the way as the Lancers cruised to a sixth-straight win after dropping five of their first seven games to open the season.
“The difference in the last six games? Having Kaylah Rainey in the lineup helps a lot,” Lancers coach Amanda Kemezys said. “She had the ankle injury to start the season and having her back — and healthy — she just changes the game for us.
“But coming off the Christmas holiday, as a coach you aren’t really sure how your team is going to react. I thought we played very well today. We shared the basketball, and it looked like the girls were just having a good time out there today.”
Junior Kierra Winkeler led Mater Dei with 15 points. But after falling behind 21-10 after one quarter, then turning the ball over on five straight possessions in the second quarter, the Knights were never a threat. Last year’s tournament runner-up fell into the consolation bracket.
Mater Dei coach David Kohnen can also be excused for not having his mind totally on the game Wednesday. Kohnen’s youngest daughter — Missy — was in labor and expected to give birth to a healthy baby girl at anytime.
“This will be our sixth grandchild. My phone went dead during the game and it could be happening ... now. I’m going to get to a phone here and find out,” Kohnen said. “Today ... we got beat by the best team in the tournament. They really hurt us with their pressure and we had no answers.”
Dowell and senior Brittney Nitz added 12 points each while Carter added 10. East will take on Central in the second quarterfinal round game at 1 p.m. Thursday.
“When I saw that we were playing Mater Dei in the first round, I’m like ‘who is mad at us at Mascoutah.’ That’s a tough first round draw,” Kemezys said. “But we did a good job of moving the basketball and getting good shots. Brittney (Nitz), I thought, really played well and she has been recently. She’s taking good shots and not forcing anything.”