Junior center Shaniah Nunn scored 16 points and added 13 rebounds as the Belleville West girls basketball team overcame a tough start to defeat Alton 40-36 on Tuesday in the first round of the Class 4A Belleville East Regional.
Looking for their second win of the season over the Redbirds, the Maroons trailed 12-6 after one quarter. But with Alton sophomore Ivoree Lacey picking up two fouls and spending the final 10 minutes of the first half on the bench, West (7-20) took advantage.
TyKaiza Jones scored four points, and senior Brittney Walker connected on a 3-point shot to lead the Maroons on a 13-0 scoring run in the second quarter to take the lead. West had a 19-14 advantage at halftime.
Seeded eighth in the regional, Alton closed to within two points in the fourth quarter. But with the 6-foot-1 Nunn scoring 12 of her 16 points in the second half, the Redbirds (9-17) would never draw even as the Maroons advanced into a semifinal game Wednesday against Edwardsville.
Edwardsville (25-0) is the top seed and ended the regular season as the top-ranked Class 4A team in the state.
"It is what it is. We got the (No. 9) seed because of the regular season we had,'' West coach Clayton Fisher said. "We're looking at tomorrow and playing the No. 1 team in the state in Edwardsville as an opportunity.
"We're going to come out and have fun. Whatever happens, happens."
In the final 12 minutes of the first half Tuesday, it was the Maroons who seized control of the game. With Lacey on the bench, West's guards started to pressure Alton, leading to seven Redbirds turnovers in the second quarter.
In that second quarter, five Maroons players scored at least one point.
"It was a big turning point when she (Lacey) went to the bench with two fouls early in the game," Fisher said. "I thought that with the exception of the first four minutes of the game that we dominated.
"We're using this as a learning experience for the future.''