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Third-quarter flurry helps Belleville West take consolation crown at Bass Pro tourney

Belleville West junior EJ Liddell (32) is the unanimous winner of the Belleville News-Democrat’s Class 3A-4A Player of the Year award.
Belleville West junior EJ Liddell (32) is the unanimous winner of the Belleville News-Democrat’s Class 3A-4A Player of the Year award. Special to the News-Democrat

The defending Illinois Class 4A state champion Belleville West Maroons simply saved the best for last Saturday at the Bass Pro Shops Tournament of Champions in Springfield, Mo.

Putting the finishing touch on a brilliant tournament performance, senior guard Lawrence Brazil III scored 25 points and the Maroons eased past the Rainier Beach (Wash.) Vikings 72-69 in the consolation final at JQH Arena on the campus of Missouri State University.

Brazil, a 6-1 sharpshooter, connected on five 3-point field goals for the Maroons (19-1), who broke loose from a 41-all tie at halftime with a big third quarter rally.

Ranked seventh in the country by Prep Nation, West outscored the Vikings (11-3) 20-13 in the period to seize control of the game.

Rainier Beach is ranked 14th in the ESPN/USA Today national poll

Nominated for the McDonalds All-American team on Friday, senior all-stater EJ Liddell added 20 points, 7 rebounds and four assists for the Maroons, while senior forward Keith Randolph had a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds.

West has made it through the thickest part of what remains a challenging schedule, falling only to Shadow Mountain, Arizona, in the opening round of the Bass Pro Shops tournament. The Maroons get back to Southwestern Conference play Friday at home against Edwardsville.

Springfield Southeast is in Belleville Saturday. The only non-conference game the Maroons face after that is a showdown with Chicago Simeon at the O’Fallon Shootout Feb. 2.

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