Belleville East stayed close with Bolingbrook until the fourth quarter Saturday, but Nebraska recruit Nana Akenten and the top-ranked Raiders caught fire down the stretch.
Akenten scored a game-high 31 points as Bolingbrook, ranked first in Illinois in Class 4A, defeated the Lancers 85-70 in the Bank of O’Fallon Shootout.
The Raiders (21-0) used their strength and athleticism to break down the Lancers.
“They’re a deep team; they’re a good team,” Schrader said. “We competed for the most part. They made it tough on us defensively. We attacked, and that’s what we wanted to do — be aggressive. We had layups, too, but they get to the basket a lot. They got a lot of easy baskets, but we competed.”
The Lancers (12-10) were within 62-58 with 6:45 to play in the game. That’s when the Raiders went on a 10-2 run to take a 72-60 lead that they easily protected.
Senior Javon Pickett topped the Lancers (12-10) with 30 points, hitting 11 of 27 shots. He also had seven assists. Senior Rico Sylvester had 18 points and four 3-pointers. Junior Jalen Lacey started for Yates and 12 points. Junior Malachi Smith had seven assists.
“I feel like we played good as a team,” Pickett said. “They were kind of bigger than us; we’re a small team. But I still feel like we competed. We played hard against them. We missed some easy shots; I know I did. Early in the game and late in the game, I missed some easy shots. And I missed free throws.”
The 6-foot-6 Akenten was 11 for 15 from the field, made five 3-pointers and grabbed 15 rebounds to earn game MVP honors. Kaleb Thornton (18 points), Malik Binns (16) and Tyler Cochran (11) also reached double digits. The Raiders dominated East on the boards 39-28.
The Lancers played without junior Jordan Yates, who suffered a dislocated right kneecap in East’s Southwestern Conference victory at Alton on Friday. Yates will be re-examined Monday, but said after the game Saturday that he is hopeful of returning this season.
“I’m looking at (being sidelined) probably two weeks, four weeks maybe,” Yates said. “I was crying (when it happened). Right now, it’s uncomfortable, but I’m bearing with it. It’s way better.”