Three-pointers proved pivotal for the Belleville West girls basketball team Monday night.
Junior Kaylee Hanger made two 3-pointers to start the third quarter and another early in overtime as the sixth-seeded Maroons outlasted the 10th-seeded Granite City Warriors 54-48 in the opening round of the Class 4A Collinsville Regional.
Junior Sydney Thurwalker also had a 3-pointer in overtime for the Maroons (18-11), who will meet fourth-seeded Belleville East (19-9) in the semifinals at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. The Lancers have defeated West twice in three games this season.
“We just needed some momentum, and I’m glad I could knock it down,” the 5-foot-9 Hanger said of her 3-pointer that put West ahead for good at 49-46 with 2:28 remaining in overtime. “My teammates did a really good job of finding me when I was open, dribble-penetrating and kicking it out to me. I think it really changed the momentum in our favor.”
Thurwalker, whose 3-pointer came 48 seconds after Hanger’s and gave the Maroons a 52-46 lead, finished with 15 points. Junior Kwanisha Quarles also had 15.
The Maroons survived a 33-point outburst from Granite City senior Addaya Moore, a University of Illinois signee.
“That’s what it’s all about at this time of year: You survive until another day and see what happens tomorrow,” West coach Seth Garrett said. “Granite City played like they didn’t want it to end. It was the third time we played them and they’ve gotten better each time.”
The Warriors finished 9-15.
“We had some breakdowns defensively, and that’s what happens. They hit shots and we couldn’t quite finish it,” Granite City coach Whitney Sykes-Rogers said. “We had just a few executional errors, but I’m so proud of them because we got beat by them (handily) twice. To come in and go into overtime is impressive.”
Granite City led 27-21 at halftime, but Hanger then made back-to-back 3-pointers to make it 27-all. No more than three points separated the teams until Thurwalker’s 3 in overtime.
The 3-pointer of the game, however, came on Moore’s one-handed desperation heave from about 35 feet away. The ball was inches from going out of bounds on the right side, but Moore chased it down and threw it in just ahead of the buzzer, a shot that pulled Granite City into a 33-33 tie heading into the fourth quarter.