Belleville East junior Jailyn McClenny scored 12 of her career-high 18 points in the second half, and the Lancers defense forced 28 turnovers in a 60-59 win Tuesday over Belleville West.
McClenny gave the Lancers (13-6) the lead for good when she scored on a 3-point shot with 2:57 remaining to put East up 56-55 in the Southwestern Conference showdown. The win for East, which defeated West in the third-place game at the Mascoutah Holiday Invitational, is its sixth in the past seven games.
“We made it a little more interesting than maybe it should have been because we didn’t make our free throws,” Lancers coach Amanda Kemezys said.
The Maroons committed eight turnovers in the first quarter against the Lancers’ pressure defense and never could sustain an offensive flow in a game that featured end-to-end action for 32 minutes.
“I expected that getting everybody back in our lineup tonight that there might be some lingering effects, and there was. I think we made more passes to players wearing blue and white uniforms than we did players wearing the Maroon colors,” Garrett said. “But still we had a chance to win the game.”
After one of 28 Belleville West turnovers, the Lancers went into a delay game, taking a minute off the clock.
With West (12-6) forced to foul, the Lancers made only 1 of 6 free throws in the closing minute.
West junior Sydney Thurwalker got the Maroons to within 60-59 on a short jumper, but after a pair of missed Lancer free throws with less than three seconds remaining, West was unable to get off a desperation shot at the buzzer.
Junior Brittney Nitz added 13 points for the Lancers, while sophomore guard Kaylah Rainey chipped in with 12.
Thurwalker paced Belleville West with 16 points, while sophomore B’Aunce Carter added 12 points, all of which came in the second half. Point guard Chamya Darough returned to the lineup after missing six games.