Boys Basketball

West advances to first Centralia tourney title game since 2003

Belleville West advances to Centralia tourney title game

The Belleville West Maroons defeated the Centralia Orphans in the semifinal of the 74th Centralia Holiday High School Basketball Tournament and will face Marist Catholic of Chicago for the championship.
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The Belleville West Maroons defeated the Centralia Orphans in the semifinal of the 74th Centralia Holiday High School Basketball Tournament and will face Marist Catholic of Chicago for the championship.

The Belleville Maroons have been a regular at the Centralia Holiday Tournament nearly since its beginnings 74 years ago.

They’ve won three championships and five times been tournament runners-up. But haven’t been to the finals since 2003.

Belleville West ended the drought with a 49-39 tournament semifinal win over the host Orphans on Friday. The Maroons (8-3) will square off with Marist Catholic (14-0) Friday night at 9 p.m. for the championship.

“Beating Centralia on their home court in the semis is a big win,” said West coach Joe Muniz. “I have to give Centralia a lot of credit. They battled us hard, it was a very physical game, and they took every bit of energy we could use to win.”

Sophomore E.J. Liddell led the way for West with a game-high 18 points to go with seven rebounds. Will Lanxon, who hit both of his 3-point attempts, added 11.

The Maroons fell behind 15-7 in the first quarter but stormed to the lead on a 19-2 run that was stopped only when Centralia’s Javon Williams drained a 60-footer at the first-half buzzer.

Centralia outscored West 11-7 in the third quarter, sparked by a 3-pointer and another long bucket by Jordan Mains, whose 17 points led the Orphans. Bryan Meskil’s two foul shots with 5:17 left tied the game at 36.

Lanxon put the Maroons ahead with the second of his two 3s, and West closed on an 8-0 run that spanned the game’s final three minutes. Liddell and Tyler Dancy each scored during the rally.

Centralia (8-3) struggled from the field, shooting 14-for-40 and 5-for-15 from beyond the arc. The Maroons were 16-for-32 and out-rebounded the Orphans 21-17.

Marist 50, Champaign Central 49

Marist reached the finals by defeating top-seeded Champaign Central in the day’s first semifinal.

The RedHawks trailed 44-32 at the end of three quarters, but closed on an 18-5 run to remain undefeated and advance to a championship date with Belleville West.

Three players reached double figures, including Morgan Taylor’s 14. Justin Brown, Marist’s 6-foot-8 center, was held to five points but blocked an attempted game-winning shot at the buzzer.

“The thing about Marist ... is they never quit,” said Muniz. They battled for 32 minutes, down double digits and found a way to win. That’s just the kind of team they have. It’s going to be a tough game for us.

“It’ll be a tough game for them because we have size, and we have some depth.”

O’Fallon 39, Alton 30

The Panthers, dispatched from the winner’s bracket with a loss to Marist on Thursday, will face Thorton Fractional-North for fifth place Friday at 4:30 p.m.

O’Fallon (7-4) defeated Southwestern Conference rival Alton in Friday’s first game, holding the Redbirds to just 26.6 percent shooting and outrebounding them 28-23.

Burke Watts led the Panthers with 10 points. Kevin Caldwell, who scored 28 against top-seeded Champaign Central on Thursday, also scored 10 to lead Alton.

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