With the final seconds ticking away in the third quarter and her path to the basket blocked by Belleville West defenders Tuesday, Belleville East senior Bryce Dowell let go of a 3-point jumper two steps beyond the top of key that hit nothing but the bottom of the net.
Unexpected maybe, but not in the eyes of Dowell.
One of the top offensive players in the St. Louis area, Dowell scored 15 of her 21 points in the final six minutes of the third period to key an 18-2 scoring run as the Lancers (3-5) rallied past Belleville West 39-32 in a Southwestern Conference game.
“I wanted to drive to the basket but when I looked at the clock and saw there were only a couple of seconds left so I let the shot go,’’ a smiling Dowell said following the win. “The first half we were rushing a little too much. We had to not rush as much. We did that in the second half.”
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The Lancers’ scoring run turned a 15-11 deficit into a 14-point advantage after three quarters over their city rivals, who made five 3-point shots to twice cut the Lancers’ lead to seven points.
Junior guard Mikayla Chapman scored all nine of her points from the arc, connecting on three straight 3-point attempts. But West, which committed 22 turnovers, ran out of time in the end as it falls to 5-5 for the season.
“I wish I could tell you that I that I gave this great halftime speech. But I really didn’t say much at all,’’ Lancers coach Amanda Kemezys said. “ We just weren’t executing very well and when we did, the shots didn’t fall.
“The second half I thought we moved better and got better looks at the basket. Bryce got hot and we played much better defense.”
The win was a welcomed by the Lancers, who will be without senior guard Kaylah Rainey until late January after the Northwestern University recruit had open heart surgery in November. A tough schedule has included losses to state champions Danville Schlarman and Peoria Richwoods along with Edwardsville and Civic Memorial.
“It’s been a brutally tough schedule. When people ask about our record I just pretend I didn’t hear them or ignore the question,’’ Kemezys said. “But the objective is to play good teams and hopefully learn and get better as the season goes on.’’
After making just 3 of 31 shots in the first half on Tuesday, the Lanncers found their range and turned up the defense.
“I thought we played a great first half but in the third quarter we just made too many turnovers,’’ West coach Clayton Fischer said. “We warned the girls that she (Dowell) was one of the best shooters in the state and we had to stay with her.
“In the first half we did that. But when she gets her feet set like she did in the third quarter, she’s not going to miss.’’