Issued a challenge following their first loss of the season, the Belleville East Lancers responded just the way coach Abel Schrader hoped they would on Saturday at the Centralia Thanksgiving Tournament.
Rico Sylvester and Javon Pickett scored four points each to highlight an 18-0 run to start the game and the Lancers didn’t let up as they ran past Jerseyville 70-43 in an early morning contest at Centralia High School.
Held to 39 points in a 61-39 shellacking at the hand of the host Orphans on Friday, Belleville East came out with energy to spare as it used its cat-like quickness and speed to contest each Panthers shot whole forcing six first quarter turnovers.
While Pickett, who scored 97 points in the tournament, and Sylvester were two of seven Lancers who scored in the opening quarter, the Panthers (0-3) missed their first 16 shots and didn’t score Jake Ridenour hit a bucket with 18 seconds left. But that time, Belleville East had an 18-2 lead.
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“I wasn’t happy with how we played on Friday against Centralia and so before the game I challenged the kids to come out and play with a lot of energy from the start, especially on the defensive end of the floor,” Schrader said. “I thought we did that. We responded the way I wanted us too.”
Pickett, whose 41-point effort in the Lancers opening night win over Springfield was just two short of the school record 43 held by Michael Dale and current University of Illinois standout Malcolm Hill, scored on a layup to get the game started and when Drew Millas tallied on an offensive putback and Sylvester scored on a 10-footer, East had a 6-0 lead 75 seconds into the game.
Senior Jalen Jones followed with a 3-point jumper and Isaiah King became the fifth East player to scored in the first three minutes when he scored on a backdoor layup.
King, Pickett and Sylvester would all score again before Riedenour finally got the Panthers first points.
With Pickett and Sylvester combining for 19 first half points, the Lancers led 35-13 at halftime. East had its biggest lead of the game 55-25 late in the third quarter.
Sophomore Malachi Smith came off the bench to lead the Lancers balanced attack with 13 points, while Pickett had 12 and Sylvester added nine. A total of 11 East players scored at least two points.
PLEASED BY START?
East will be off until next Saturday when it travels to Marian to take on the Wildcats. Schrader plans to put the next six days of practice to good use.
“Not bad,’’ Schrader said when asked about the Lancers 3-1 start. “But like all basketball teams this early in the season we’ve still got a lot of work to do. Especially on the defensive end of the court.
“What concerns me the most is defensive rebounding. We gave up 12 offensive rebounds to Jerseyville. We won’t be able to do that and win basketball ganes in the Southwestern Conference.’’
In the second game on Saturday
SPRINGFIELD 52, MASCOTUAH 48
Senior Ethan Mayberry scored 18 points while Noah Dressler added 11, but it wasn’t enough for the Mascoutah Indians (0-3) who fell for the third straight time in tournament play.