Finally, some good news for the Belleville East Lancers.
Javon Pickett scored three of his game-high 27 points and Isaiah King scored on a crucial offensive rebound in overtime as Belleville East defeated Granite City 65-62 on Friday in a Southwestern Conference game.
In a battle of two teams looking for their first SWc win, it was the Lancers, who rallied from an eight-point deficit after three quarters to force overtime, who had the final say.
Pickett gave East (5-10, 1-6) the lead for good when he canned two free throws in the opening 15 seconds of overtime. But it wasn’t until the Warriors Kenny Berry saw his baseline jumper hit off the rim at the buzzer that Lancers coach Abel Schrader and his team could celebrate their first league win of the season.
“Lets face it, we’re in a position where our backs are against the wall and they will be every night from here on out. Tonight you saw two teams playing hard for 36 minutes. I’m just happy for our kids. We;re worked hard and haven’t had anything to show for it,’’ Schrader said. “It is just so nice to see the kids walk out of here tonight having fun and with ssmiles on their faces.
“It’s been a while since we’ve been able to do that. Hopefullythis is the start of something good for us.’’
EnRico Sylvester added 17 points for East, while Brady Schanuel added 12 points.
For much of the night it appear that Granite City (6-10, 0-7) would be the team to post its first SWC win. With Berry (19 points) and Darrell Miller (17) leading the way, Granite City led 25-24 at halftime then used a 21-14 advantage in the third period to stretch their margin to 46-38.
But with Pickett and Sylvester combining for 18 points in the final quarter, East rallied to take as much as a six point lead. The Warriors rallied to tie theg ame at 56 and when Pickett’s half-court shot fell well short at the end of regulation, the teams were headed for overtime.
Granite City hurt itsself from the foul line, making just 12 of 23 from the charity stripe. Belleville East was 14 of 18.
“That was a key in the game. We had some chances to expand the lead a few times and we just didn’t get the job done at the foul line. What did we miss, 12? 13 free throws,’’ Warriors coach Steve Roustio said. “We also gave them (East) to many layups off the baseline.
“I told the kids before the game this one would come down to who wanted it more, who battled. I was pleased with our effort. We fought hard. They (East) just had a little more then we did tonight.’’
East committed 19 turnovers against the speedy Warriors, but Scrhader, opting to keep things positive, chooseinstead to praise the members of his team.
“Javon (Pickett) had a big night for us and (EnRico) Sylvester came through and hit some big shots for us,’’ Schrader said. “And I thought Brady Schanuel did a nice job inside and on the boards. This is a big win for these kids. One they really needed to get a little confidence back in themselves.’’