The way it was drawn up on the dry-erase board, Javon Pickett was supposed to get the ball with the game on the line.
But with Columbia defense focused on Belleville East's top scorer, and Lancers' senior sharp-shooter Drew Millas left all by himself, Rico Sylvester elected to pass it to the outside instead.
The Lancers were trailing by a point with 2.3 seconds left when Millas drained the three-point shot to give East a thrilling 68-66 win over Columbia at the Chick-fil-A Classic Wednesday night.
"They were playing man-to-man and I liked our chances of Javon getting a quality shot," said Belleville East head coach Abel Schrader. "But the guy on Drew slid inside, I guess to help, and Rico and Drew made eye contact. Sometimes players just make plays and Drew hit a big shot for us."
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Even though the Lancers needed only the two-point basket to take the lead, Millas said he never hesitated to take the 22-footer.
"I'm pretty confident when I shoot the ball," he said. "That's just how I always do it."
The loss, just its second of the season, was crushing for Columbia, which led most of the second half and was up by as much as seven in the third quarter.
They were playing man-to-man and I liked our chances of Javon getting a quality shot. But the guy on Drew slid inside, I guess to help, and Rico and Drew made eye contact. Sometimes players just make plays and Drew hit a big shot for us.
Abel Schrader, Belleville East head basketball coach
"We took it away inside on the out-of-bounds play and the kid hit a 22-footer. I know he's a good shooter, but that's a tough shot in that situation," said Columbia coach Mark Sandstrom. "That's the biggest school south of Interstate-80 and little old Columbia from the Cahokia Conference went toe-to-toe with them."
The Lancers improved to 13-4 with the victory and will continue play in the tournament Friday with a 7:30 p.m. game with St. Louis University High School. The Eagles, 13-2, are back at it Thursday against Althoff, the No. 2-ranked team in Class 3A.
Columbia took the biggest lead of the night when Ryan Gudeman scored on a short jumper to make it 46-39. But East went on a 10-2 run.
Pickett, who earlier this week announced his commitment to play at the University of Illinois, scored on a pair of dunks off Columbia turnovers to put the Lancers ahead 54-48 and ignite a vocal student section.
The Eagles were not done, however.
Gudeman and Jonathan Holmes each hit a pair of field goals to spark a 10-2 run that put the Eagles ahead 65-62. A 3-pointer by East's Jalen Jones tied it again and Columbia took the lead when Holmes hit the first of two from the foul line.
Millas' go-ahead shot left 2.3 seconds on the clock for Gudeman, who got off a buzzer shot from 15-feet away, but was blocked by Jones to preserve the win.
We took it away inside on the out-of-bounds play and the kid hit a 22-footer. I know he's a good shooter, but that's a tough shot in that situation.
Mark Sandstrom, Columbia head basketball coach
"Columbia is a good basketball team and they probably should have beat us -- I give them all the credit," Schrader said. "I am proud of the fact that the guys didn't quit and kept fighting. Eventually they made a play to win the game."
Pickett led the Lancers with 22 points to go with seven rebounds, and Jones added 17. Millas finished with nine, including the game winner.
Holmes scored a game-high 26 for Columbia. Gudeman had 14.