Belleville East used defense to shake a three-game losing streak Saturday.
The Lancers held high-scoring Columbia senior Jordan Holmes to three second-half points as they defeated the Eagles 59-49 in a nonconference game.
Holmes, a 6-foot guard, entered the game averaging 23.5 points but had just 15. It was his lowest production since he had 10 points last Feb. 3 against Central.
“Jaylen Lacey and Clayton Hughes both did a great job (on Holmes), but we also had a lot of help from our (other) guys,” East coach Jeff Creek said. “Jordan Holmes is an underrated player. He’s a great player. Every time he shoots it, I think it’s going in. He gets his feet set and looks strong shooting the basketball.
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“He had a great first half. We luckily wore him down in the second.”
Holmes finished 6 of 18 from the field and was just 1 of 8 in the second half.
“Credit their defense,” Columbia coach Mark Sandstrom said. “They did a nice job, especially denying him the ball. Jordan gets everything going with our offense.”
East, coming off a 64-37 defeat to visiting Belleville West on Friday, improved to 4-4. Junior Isaiah May led the Lancers with 17 points and five 3-pointers, all in the first half, Juniors Kienen Waller and Malik Williams had 11 apiece.
Williams banked-in a 3-pointer to beat the buzzer and give East a 37-36 lead after three quarters. The Lancers then opened the fourth quarter by scoring six consecutive points to lead 42-36. They remained in control for the final six minutes.
“It just changed the perspective because then we had the lead going into the fourth,” Creek said of Williams’ 3-pointer, one of seven the Lancers made in the game.
Sandstrom agreed. His team had just taken a 36-34 lead on junior Riley Hubler’s 3-pointer.
“That 3 at the end of the third quarter was a huge momentum change,” he said. “We had fought back to take the lead and the kid made a 3 from 23 feet. The momentum switched.”
Jon Peterson, a 6-6 junior, led the Eagles (1-4) with 20 points and nine rebounds. He scored all 13 of Columbia’s points in the fourth quarter when he made nine straight free throws.
“We’ve been struggling. We’re off to a slow start,” said Sandstrom, whose team committed 15 turnovers. “We had some stretches where we looked like we knew what we were doing. Hopefully, we can make those stretches a little bit longer and we can continue to get better.
“If you would have told me that we would be 1-4 right now, I would be like, ‘No way. No way.’”