Belleville West finishes second at Centralia Tournament
The Belleville West Maroons have been waiting since 2003 to get their fourth championship at the Centralia Holiday Tournament.
They’ll have to wait at least another year.
West fell to Marist Catholic (Chicago) in the title game Friday night, 51-47.
The Maroons were still shaking off the rust from a six-hour intermission between their semifinal win over Centralia and the championship game, while Marist dug them into a 17-4 hole by the end of the first quarter.
West couldn’t recover, though an 11-2 run and fourth-quarter 3-pointers by Tyler Dancy, DeAndre Jackson and Will Lanxon helped the Maroons to close to within four by game’s end.
Momentum was on the Maroons’ side. The clock was not.
The Maroons fought their way to the title game with wins over Salem, Thornton Fractional North and the host Orphans. They were mostly successful using senior Dancy’s side in the paint and an extended zone defense to keep opponents from getting too close to the basket.
Marist didn’t fare much better in that regard, but found a work-around in guard Maurice Commander, who shot three of the RedHawks five first-half 3-pointers.
E.J. Liddell led the Maroons with 16 points, while Dancy added 10.
Both Maroons were named to the all-tournament team.
The Maroons shot 36.7 percent from the field; Marist shot 30.8 percent.
Both teams were 7 for 20 from beyond the arc.
Commander scored 16 to lead Marist.
Tournament MVP Morgan Taylor pitched in 13 with five rebounds and four assists in the championship game.
The Maroons (8-4) have been a regular at the Centralia Holiday Tournament nearly since its beginnings 74 years ago. They’ve won three championships (1962, 1981, 2003) and five times have been tournament runners-up (1963, 1971, 1972, 1973, 2002).
Marist (15-0) last won the Centralia Holiday Tournament championship in 1991.
West earned its trip to the championship game with a 49-39, semifinal win over the host Centralia Orphans earlier Friday afternoon.
The Maroons trailed by eight early 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. The Orphans managed a tie with three minutes left, but West closed with an 8-0 run.
Liddell led the way with 18 points, and Lanxon added 11, including a big 3-pointer to break the late tie.
Marist defeated top-seeded Champaign Central in the other semifinal, 50-49. The RedHawks trailed Central by 12 at the end of the third quarter but closed on an 18-5 run to win.
O’Fallon 59, Thorton Fractional North 57
The Panthers (8-4) closed out a successful tournament run with their fifth-place game victory over Thorton Fractional North (8-3).
O’Fallon shot a blistering 67 percent from the field. Jalen Hodge led the way with 15 points, including 3-for-6 shooting from 3-point range. Burke Watts added 11, and Alex Orr and Jarvus Smith had 10 each.
O’Fallon’s only loss in four tournament games came against champion Marist Catholic. The Panthers notched a double-overtime win over Cahokia in the first day of play and defeated Alton earlier in the day Friday.
“We found ways to win close games against good teams, so we’re really happy with the way we come out of this tournament,” coach Brian Muniz said. “We have Belleville East and Edwardsville next week, so it doesn’t get any easier for us, but we’re happy to be going in with some momentum. We just hope to keep playing well and finding ways to win.”
Cahokia 48, Salem 36
The Comanches also finished the tournament on a high note. After being dispatched the consolation bracket with a double overtime loss to O’Fallon Wednesday, they absorbed a second loss to Jacksonville.
But Cahokia bounced back Friday with a 51-19 win over Mount Vernon and a 48-36 win over Salem. Jakorey Davis was the high scorer in both games with 14 and 13 points, respectively.
Derrick Aaron pitched in 12 against Mount Vernon, and Richard Robinson had 12 against Salem.
Cahokia (7-6) next faces Carbondale in a South Seven Conference game Jan. 6.