Belleville East senior Jailyn McClenny and junior B’Aunce Carter helped keep the Lancers in the winners bracket Wednesday at the Mascoutah Girls Invitational Tournament.
With point guard Kaylah Rainey spending the final 12 minutes of the first half on the bench with two fouls, McClenny scored 11 of her 14 points and held Central senior Faye Meissner in check as the Lancers posted a 59-45 quarterfinal victory.
McClenny was key in the Lancers’ pressure defense, which bothered the Cougars throughout the game. Meissner, headed to the University of Missouri-St. Louis, scored 13 points but was never able to get on track against the Lancers’ constant pressure.
“You never want to see Kaylah (Rainey) on the bench for more than a quarter with two fouls, but we certainly have the players who can come in and play well when that happens,” Lancers coach Amanda Kemezys said.
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“It seems like No. 14 (Meissner) has been at Central for eight years, and she has proven what she can do on the basketball court. But I thought Jailyn (McClenny) was excited about the assignment of guarding her, and she did an excellent job.”
The win is the seventh straight for Belleville East (9-5) as they move into a semifinal test Friday against defending tournament champion Highland (10-3).
The Lancers showed their athleticism from the outset against the Cougars (11-2). With McClenny connecting on three short jumpers and Carter scoring four of her 14 points — most of which came on offensive rebounds — East jumped out to leads of 16-9 after one quarter and 28-16 at halftime.
Central, which was led by senior Carson Newkirk’s 15 points and 13 each from Meissner and Olivia Wesselmann, struggled to keep up with the athletic Lancers.
“They (East) hurt us with their pressure and rebounding,” Cougars coach Nathan Rueter said. “I don’t know how many offensive rebounds B’Aunce (Carter) had against us. But it was 12 too many.
“I was pleased with the effort our girls gave. We just didn’t execute on the offensive end as well as we needed to.”
Wesselmann connected on a 3-pointer to end the third quarter as Central closed to within 36-27. But junior Bryce Dowell opened the final period with a 3-pointer of her own, and Carter tallied inside as the Lancers’ lead grew to 41-27.