East St. Louis’ Joe Reece turned a spot on the bench into a starring role Thursday.
The 6-foot-8 senior didn’t start because of a violation of team rules, but he scored 21 points and gathered eight rebounds in the final three quarters as the Flyers defeated upset-minded Urbana 76-66 in the first round of the Collinsville-Prairie Farms Holiday Classic.
“After not ever coming off the bench here at East Side, it kind of felt a little strange,” said Reece, an Old Dominion recruit. “But as soon as I came in, my teammates found me. A lot of offense kind of helped out a little on defense.”
Reece finished 6 of 13 from the field and 8 of 9 from the free-throw line. First-year East St. Louis coach Fernando Stevenson was proud of how the slender Reece handled the adversity, which was created when he was late to a recent practice.
“He came in and played some inspired basketball,” Stevenson said. “He apologized to his teammates for letting them down. At the same time, he came in and knew that he had to provide a spark for us, because it was kind of dreary starting out. But our defensive intensity picked up, and that was the difference in the game.”
Reece, asked about being late to practice, said: “It won’t happen again.”
Sophomore Jashawn Anderson, who had 14 points and four steals, also didn’t start because of a rules infraction.
The Flyers (6-4) turned a 46-43 deficit into a 61-46 lead over a period of 3:45 in the third and fourth quarters. Anderson had two steals that led to a pair of layups in a six-second span to end the third quarter.
Junior Terrence Hargrove Jr. had a double-double with 12 points and 12 boards for the Flyers. Senior Traeveion Jones had nine points and nine rebounds.
Urbana dropped to 3-6.
Collinsville 67, Riverview Gardens 45
Junior Marshall Harrison had 15 points, sophomore Ray’Sean Taylor had 14 and senior Bailey McGovern had 12 to power the Kahoks. McGovern had four 3-pointers.
Collinsville (6-5) will meet East St. Louis in the quarterfinals at 1 p.m. Friday. In the teams’ first meeting Dec. 5, the visiting Flyers won 65-64 on a late 3-pointer.
The Rams tumbled to 2-6.
Edwardsville 47, Althoff 42
The Tigers (8-1) were threatened in the fourth quarter but held on to advance to the quarterfinals at 2:30 p.m. Friday.
Edwardsville senior Jack Marinko, who came into the game averaging 28.9 points, missed his first 10 shots from the field. He finished with 15 points.
Tigers senior Caleb Strohmeier had 14 points, and junior Malik Robinson had 10.
Althoff (2-8) was led by junior Khalifah Muhammad with 11 points. Sophomore Patrick Readye had 10 points.
Springfield Southeast 74, Granite City 34
Junior Terrion Murdix tied a 27-year-old tournament record with 14 assists to spark the Spartans (7-2). Skip Birdsong had 14 assists for Granite City in 1991.
Junior Anthony Fairlee had a game-best 25 points for Southeast, while senior Kobe Medley added 17 points and Murdix had 12 points and eight rebounds.
Oakville 58, Eisenhower 48
Junior Tom Purschke came off the bench and scored 19 points to lead the Tigers (4-2). Senior Brenden Gillmann had 17 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists.
Senior Quylan Young led all scorers with 24 points for the Panthers (3-5).
Lincoln 63, Hazelwood East 43
The Railers (9-2) got 22 points from senior Titus Cannon, who made all nine of his shots from the field. Senior Isaiah Bowers had 10 points, six rebounds and six assists.
Lincoln shot 60 percent (25 of 42).
Hazelwood East suffered just its second loss in eight games.