The fast start coveted by Belleville East coach Jeff Creek instead belonged to Rockford East on Saturday.
The E-Rabs led 18-7 after one quarter and 30-23 at halftime, then opened the third quarter with an 11-4 run that helped net them a 56-47 victory in the consolation championship of the Collinsville-Prairie Farms Holiday Classic.
“It was a slow start again,” Creek said. “I told the kids in the locker room, ‘Whoever comes out ready to play (will win). They did a good job of it. They knocked down some shots. We were a little lethargic from the start.”
The Lancers (7-7) dropped their first tournament game to Quincy, then defeated Hazelwood East and Decatur Eisenhower before falling to Rockford East (8-6).
“To be truthful, I don’t care if we go 0-4 or 1-3. I just want to play solid basketball every single game,” Creek said. “We just kind of bookended it with two (losses). This wasn’t as bad a performance as against Quincy. We fought back; we just didn’t have it. We just made some mental mistakes toward the end of the game.
“I’m satisfied with the 2-2, but I feel like we could have gotten a third win.”
Jordan Yates, a 6-foot-2 senior, averaged 15.5 points and 8.3 rebounds for the Lancers, playing himself into consideration as a member of the all-tournament team.
“Jordan Yates gives complete and total effort every day in the game and every day in practice,” Creek said. “Jaylen Lacey has been doing a good job, but we don’t really know who that second scorer is going to be every day. We know Jordan is going to give you about 10 to 12 (points) and sometimes get in the 20s. But we need somebody else to consistently score for us.”
East returns to the court at 7:30 p.m. Friday with a Southwestern Conference home game against Collinsville.
East St. Louis 61, Oakville 54
The Flyers (7-6), playing without flu-stricken seniors Joseph Reece and Imunique Williams, captured seventh place as junior Terrence Hargrove Jr. had 27 points and 15 rebounds — his third double-double in four tournament games.
“I feel like we could have done better, but it is what it is,” Hargrove said of the Flyers’ 2-2 showing in Collinsville. “We fought this game after the Edwardsville game (Friday) night. We just came back, bounced back off that game and played hard.”
East St. Louis coach Fernando Stevenson’s team will be back in action at 7:30 p.m. Friday with an SWC home game against Granite City.
“It’s good momentum,” Stevenson said of the victory over Oakville (2-4). “This was a tough tournament. It could have gone either way. It could have been worse. We could have left 1-3. We could have left the champs.
“But this tournament, there was a lot of competition here. We were in a tough bracket. Perseverance is key. We were short a couple of guys today and our guys stepped up and played despite that. It was a next-man-up philosophy.”
Quincy 69, Edwardsville 58
The Blue Devils (11-3) pulled away in the second half of the fifth-place game as junior Jirehl Brock had 21 points and five steals.
Edwardsville (9-3) got 21 points from senior Jack Marinko, 20 points and eight rebounds from senior Caleb Strohmeier and 10 rebounds from senior RJ Wilson.
The Tigers will play at O’Fallon at 7:30 p.m. Friday in an SWC game.
Hazelwood East 65, Althoff 62, OT
The Crusaders fell to 3-10 with a loss in the 13th-place game. Hazelwood East (8-3) outscored Althoff 24-14 in the fourth quarter to force overtime.
Sophomore Patrick Readye had 15 points, six rebounds and four blocks for Althoff. Spartans senior Darrian McBride had 18 points and 14 rebounds.
Granite City 49, Riverview Gardens 43
The Warriors posted their only triumph of the tournament to finish in 15th place.
Junior Emmitt Gordon poured in 27 points in addition to 11 rebounds, four blocked shots and three steals for Granite City (3-11).
Riverview Gardens (2-10) committed 24 turnovers.