Fresh off the football field, East St. Louis senior Reyondous Estes looked right at home on the basketball court Saturday night.
Estes scored all 15 of his points in the second half and overtime, as the Flyers, who trailed by 14 points in the first half, rallied past Belleville East 84-77 in a Southwestern Conference game at Vadalabene Center.
Estes put the Flyers (3-2, 1-0) ahead to stay with a basket that made it 76-74 with 2:02 left in overtime. Estes fed sophomore Terrence Hargrove Jr. for a dunk that made it 82-77 with 39 seconds left and sealed the Lancers’ fate.
“I was supposed to be out there last week, but I felt like I wasn’t ready mentally,” Estes said. “But from what I saw (Friday) night, my guys needed me, so I felt I was going to go ahead and suit up and give them a few minutes. I actually played more than a few minutes.”
The Flyers lost to Chicago Curie 63-53 in the Chicago Elite Classic on Friday.
East Side won with 6-foot-11 senior Jeremiah Tilmon, an Illinois recruit, on the bench in overtime. Tilmon (18 points) fouled out with 4.6 seconds to play in regulation. Senior Travion Vickers had 17 points and four 3-pointers.
Senior Javon Pickett, like Tilmon an Illinois recruit, had a game-high 26 points for the Lancers (4-1, 0-1) but was 4-of-11 from the free-throw line. Junior Malachi Smith had 24 points, and senior Rico Sylvester had 14.
Smith made two free throws with 4.6 seconds left in the fourth quarter, putting the Lancers ahead 72-70. But after a timeout, East St. Louis senior Arthur Carter drove the left side of the lane and dropped in a layup ahead of the buzzer to force overtime.
“I was on the bench, very scared, (but) my team pulled it off,” Tilmon said of watching the four-minute overtime period. “We wouldn’t have won if Arthur Carter hadn’t hit that buzzer-beater. Thanks to him. The game was a good game. We started off slow. We slowly just came back, and that’s what we wanted.”
Lancers coach Abel Schrader was disappointed with the outcome.
“We’ve go to learn from this game,” he said. “We didn’t handle it very well, obviously.
“When we got it up 10, we act like East St. Louis is not a good team. They’re a good team. The game plan was correct. We didn’t make enough plays down the stretch.”
East St. Louis coach Phillip Gilbert, whose team trailed 33-19 in the second quarter and 48-38 midway through the third quarter, was proud of his players’ resiliency.
“These guys prepared,” Gilbert said. “I put them through a lot of mental preparation in practice ... for situations like this. Tonight showed if we come together like never before, we’re capable of doing something special. We played a great team in Belleville East, and we just stepped up and made plays. That’s what it’s all about.
“Reyondous Estes, coming right off the (football) field, he’s a leader. He’s so tough. He put us on his back tonight, and we brought it home.”