The Belleville East Lancers not only shook off their eight-point loss to Chaminade Wednesday night, they were inspired by it.
The Lancers have won two games in a row since falling short against Missouri’s eighth-ranked boy’s basketball team, including a 69-56 triumph over Althoff for the consolation title of the Chick-fil-A Classic on their home floor Saturday.
East won two of three games amid a field that includes four teams ranked in either Illinois or Missouri. It was a satisfying outcome for the Lancers, but it started with that loss to Chaminade.
“The thing I was most pleased with was our effort against Chaminade. Even the game we lost, we gave good effort,” said Jeff Creek, the Lancers’ first-year coach. “So 2-1 is a good finish for us. Winning the consolation is great for us after losing it in Collinsville.”
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East heads into the regular-season homestretch at 9-10 with eight games remaining before regional tournaments begin in the last week of February.
The Crusaders (4-15) entered Saturday’s consolation championship having upset Alton on Thursday. Althoff has six games remaining, including a rematch with the Lancers on Tuesday, Jan. 30.
East junior Jared Adams led the Lancers to a 16-point first-quarter lead with 13 points of his own. The lead grew to 61-22 by the end of the third. By that time, the Lancers had hit eight 3-pointers.
Adams finished with a season-best 15 points. Jaylen Lacey and Isaiah May scored 14 each, and Kienen Waller added 12.
“We came out shooting the ball really well. They shared the basketball, so there were a bunch of people who scored,” Creek said. “We’re pretty good when we have three or four guys close to double figures. They were really good about being unselfish.”
Daulton Burgner scored 13 points, and Burke Watts had 11 to lead Althoff, which was without two of its key players Saturday. Senior Melvin Brock was making a recruiting visit to Quincy College and its football program. Greg Wells was out due to a death in the family.
East gets back to Southwestern Conference play at home against East St. Louis on Friday. Althoff faces South Seven Conference rival Cahokia, also Friday.
Columbia rallies, falls short in OT
In the tournament’s seventh-place game, Columbia battled back from a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter to take Alton into overtime. But the Redbirds ultimately prevailed 64-56.
Columbia coach Mark Sandstrom praised the Eagles’ effort but lamented their poor shooting, especially with the game on the line.
“We’ve played in a lot of good games over here, but we’re 0-9 in this tournament. It sure would be nice to win one,” Sandstrom said. “We’ve had a couple of overtime games and another one here we just couldn’t pull out today. Unfortunately, we’ve missed too many easy ones today.”
For the game, Columbia shot just 38 percent from the field. Alton shot 52 percent.
“I think we’re worried about getting our shots blocked sometimes,” said Sandstrom. “Against the bigger, athletic teams, I think the guys don’t have their eyes on the rim and that played a factor in it.”
Senior Jordan Holmes, who announced this week he’ll play football at the University of Illinois as a preferred walk-on, tied the game from the free-throw line with five seconds left. But Columbia managed just two more points. Alton, meanwhile, cinched the win by hitting 6 of 7 foul shots in overtime.
Holmes finished with 29 points while Jon Peterson added 19. For Alton, Kevin Caldwell scored 25 and Malik Smith had 22.
Columbia (10-9) next plays Salem at home Tuesday. Alton (11-7) plays Granite City at home Friday.