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Defending state champion Maroons face stern test against SWC rival Alton

Jaylin Mosby 3 pointer lifts West to win

Belleville West senior guard Jaylin Mosby drained a 3-point shot in overtime to lift the Maroons past Chicago Simeon at the Bank of O'Fallon Shootout.
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Belleville West senior guard Jaylin Mosby drained a 3-point shot in overtime to lift the Maroons past Chicago Simeon at the Bank of O'Fallon Shootout.

The Belleville West Maroons and Alton Redbirds will settle their season-long battle once and for all Tuesday at Edwardsville High School.

The reigning Class 4A state champion Maroons (29-4) will look to run their postseason winning streak to 10 when they take on the Redbirds (21-10) beginning at 7 p.m. in a highly-anticipated semifinal round game at the East Moline Sectional Tournament.

The meeting will be the fourth of the season between the two Southwestern Conference rivals. And while West won two of the three regular season meetings, the Redbirds enter the game on a five game winning streak which includes a 44-43 win over the Maroons two weeks ago.

The Maroons defeated Alton 62-57 in the title game of the Centralia Holiday Tournament then handed the Redbirds a 61-55 defeat six days later in a Southwestern Conference contest.

Alton is perhaps playing its best basketball of the season heading into the sectional battle. Led by 6-foot-7 guard Donovan Clay, the Redbirds defeated Collinsville 58-48 to win the Collinsville Regional on Friday. But as Maroons coach Joe Muniz knows, the Redbirds have plenty of offensive firepower to go along with the athletic Clay.

“The key for us to win is our ability to be able to guard them,’’ Muniz said. “ They have multiple kids that can shoot the ball very well. We will have to keep them out of the paint on penetration and at the same time be able to close out on their shooters.’’

Ranked second in the Class 4A state poll, West is still to put a complete 32 minutes of basketball together, according to Muniz. West was impressive in a a 71-32 win over O’Fallon to open the postseason. But after holding a large lead early, the Maroons needed a fourth quarter surge to beat Chatham-Glenwood 52-43 in the final of the West Regional on Friday.

“I think a lot of times when we get leads we forget how we got those leads,’’ Muniz said. “ We just have to be able to continue plugging away and make sure we get good looks at the basket each and every possession. We also have to make sure we score and then get stops on the other end.’’

Pekin will take on Danville in the other sectional semifinal, whichis being played at East Moline High School. The two semifinal winners will meet for the sectional title at East Moline at 7 p.m. Friday.

In other postseason action Tuesday.

Class 3A Mascoutah Sectional

Ranked fourth in the Class 3A state poll, the East St. Louis Flyers (25-6) will take on the Herrin Tigers (26-4) in a semiifnal round game beginning at 7 p..m.

Herrin advanced with a 60-58 win ove rAlthoff at the Freeburg Regional, while East St. Louis won the Central Regional, and is looking for its 15th win in its last 16 games.

Mississippi Valley Conference rivals Mascoutah (22-11) and Highland (28-5) will meet in the other semifinal on Wednesday at 7 p.m. The winners will meet for the sectional title on Friday.

Class 1A Jacksonville Super-Sectional

The defending Class 1A state champion Okawville Rockets (21-12) will take on Concord Triopia at the Jacksonville Bowl beginning at 7 p.m. The winner advances to the Class 1A State Tournament at the Peoria Civic Center on Friday.

Okawville placed second at the 2017 Class 1A state finals.

Class 2A Carbondale Super-Sectional

The Nashville Hornets (31-2) will take on the Teutopolis Wooden Shoes at the SIU-Carbondale Arena beginning at 7:30 pm. The winner advances to the Class 2A state tournament on Friday at the Peoria Civic Center.

Dean Criddle has worked at the Belleville News-Democrat for 32 years as a sports writer. Dean graduated from SIUE with a double major in journalism and English, is married and lives in Belleville.