Belleville East senior Javon Pickett scored 28 points, and the Lancers defense held an athletic Alton team in check during a 63-52 win Friday in a Southwestern Conference boys basketball game at Alton High School.
One week after giving up 101 points in a loss to East St. Louis, East (12-9, 3-6) jumped out to a 14-point lead in the first half as it posted an important road win.
“Amazing. We guarded tonight and played a very solid basketball game,” East coach Abel Schrader said. “Alton is a very good basketball team. They’re quick, and they can really shoot the basketball. But I thought we played very good defense all night long. We really needed a win, and the kids responded with a very good effort.”
With seniors Javon Pickett and Rico Sylvester combining for 23 points, East took a 32-25 lead at half-time. Alton (11-9, 5-5), led by the 3-point shooting of senior Kevin Caldwell, closed to within three points early in the third quarter.
Caldwell, who led Alton with 22 points, connected on his fourth 3-point basket with 3:23 remaining in the third quarter to cut the Lancers lead to 35-32.
Pickett, a University of Illinois recruit, was fouled on the Lancers’ next possession and made two free throws to take the Lancers lead back to five points. The 6-foot-7 senior then combined with Rico Sylvester to score on 3-point plays on consecutive trips down the court.
When Pickett made a short jumper with just more than 45 seconds left in the third quarter, the Lancers had a 45-32 lead.
Alton’s Darrell Smith scored the final four points of the period, which ended with East leading 45-36.
“They made a run at us, and we were able to stay focused and keep our poise. That was good to see,” Schrader said. “Then we made the free throws in the fourth quarter.”
Pickett led East with 28 points, and the Lancers received 13 points from Sylvester and 11 points from junior Malachi Smith.