It was all but over soon after it began.
Edwardsville galloped to a 17-4 lead after one quarter and a 40-11 advantage at halftime Tuesday and handed Belleville East an 84-45 loss in a Southwestern Conference game.
The Tigers (5-1, 1-1 SWC) made 12 3-pointers on 19 attempts, led by junior point guard Jack Marinko’s game-high 20 points and six 3-pointers on eight tries.
“We limited them to one shot and we took good shots every time down the floor,” the 5-foot-10 Marinko said. “Mark (Smith) was just finding me, and I was feeling it tonight. Every time he passed it to me, I was looking to shoot. It was awesome.”
Seniors Smith (19 points), A.J. Epenesa (12) and Oliver Stephen (11) and junior Caleb Strohmeier (10) also reached double figures. Stephen made three 3-pointers, while Smith, Strohmeier and senior Jackson Best had one apiece.
The Tigers were coming off a 59-53 loss to Belleville West on Saturday in the first “SWC at the E” event at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville’s Vadalabene Center and were determined to not let it happen again.
“We were disappointed with how we played (Saturday),” Smith said. “We knew we should have won. But you have to tip your hat to Belleville West. They played really well against us.”
We limited them to one shot and we took good shots every time down the floor. Mark (Smith) was just finding me, and I was feeling it tonight. Every time he passed it to me, I was looking to shoot. It was awesome.
Edwardsville junior Jack Marinko
Edwardsville coach Mike Waldo put his players through a three-hour practice Sunday that he said differed little from any other workout.
“We just practiced about the way we always do,” Waldo said. “Every team in the league is good and it’s a long season. Instead of lamenting a loss, you’ve got to keep trying to get better because the teams you’re playing are all good and you can always get beat.
“Tonight was one of those nights when we made a lot of shots and they had trouble making them. Sometimes that happens. But they’re an awfully good team. Saturday night, the shots we gave (West), they made. That’s just the way it happens sometimes in basketball.”
Lancers coach Able Schrader, whose team fell to 4-2 and 0-2, used two timeouts in the first eight-plus minutes as Edwardsville built leads of 15-2 and 24-7.
“We ran into a buzzsaw,” Schrader said. “They shot it really well, but they also shot open shots. We took bad shots and it led to easy baskets for them. We just kind of laid down and let them kick our butts, and they kicked our butts tonight. It was never a game.”
Epenesa scored underneath, Strohmeier made a 3-pointer, Smith had a driving layup and Strohmeier added a free throw to make it 8-0 with 4:19 left in the first quarter.
Strohmeier’s 15-footer made it 17-4 after the first quarter, and the Tigers opened the second quarter with an 18-3 run that featured two 3-pointers by Marinko, one by Smith and a pair of three-point plays by Smith, the second of which made it 38-9.
The lead grew to 53-16 on a 3-pointer by Stephen midway through the third quarter.
Edwardsville shot 60 percent from the field (31-of-52). East shot 30 percent (18-of-61), including 25 percent on 3-pointers (6-of-24).
“If that’s not one of the best teams in the state of Illinois, I don’t know what is,” Schrader said of the Tigers, who are ranked fifth in the Class 4A poll. “We still think we’re a good team, and certainly not 35-plus points (worse) than they are. They shot it really well, we did not. We took some bad shots and defensively we laid down a little bit.
“It’s early, but we’ve got to compete better. I’ve got to prepare them better. That’s the bottom line. I think we’ll be OK. We’ve got the talent and the ability. We’ve just got to do a little better job of having some poise.”
The Lancers had just one player in double figures: senior Javon Pickett with 16 points. Pickett, a University of Illinois recruit, scored 12 of his points in the second half. Senior Rico Sylvester and sophomore Kienen Waller had eight apiece.