BELLEVILLE — The Granite City Warriors will have to wait another night to clinch a .500 season.
The Warriors dropped to 13-12 overall and 6-6 in Southwestern Conference play after suffering a 79-78 loss to the Belleville East Lancers in overtime on Friday. The Lancers completed the season series sweep over Granite City.
The Warriors need to win one of their two remaining regular season games to clinch their first .500 record in Steve Roustio’s eight-season tenure as head coach. Granite City plays East St. Louis in its regular season home finale on Tuesday and travels to Belleville West on Feb. 26.
“Hopefully, we can get that done Tuesday,” Roustio said.
Senior Tra’ Allen finished with 28 points to lead the Warriors in Friday’s game with the Lancers. He scored 35 in Granite City’s last meeting with Belleville East on Jan. 15.
Also for Granite City, senior Kenny Berry finished with 17 points, including a game-tying basket with two seconds left in the fourth quarter that sent the game to overtime.
Junior Torrey Deal finished with 13 points.
Belleville East improved to 16-9 overall and 7-5 in conference play. Last season, the Lancers were 8-19.
“We’ve got four guys who played all of last year,” Belleville East coach Abel Schrader said. “We struggled at times last year. We had a good year. We had a stretch of four games which we would like to have back right after our tournament, but you can’t do anything about it. You have to move on.”
Junior Javon Pickett — a University of Illinois recruit — scored 36 points, including eight in the overtime period, for Belleville East.
“He’s been very valuable,” Schrader said. “He’s done it pretty much all year. He can really score the basketball and teams try to take him away.”
Also for the Lancers, junior EnRico Sylvester scored 15 points and senior Drew Millas finished with 14 in his final home game.
Belleville East, which beat the Warriors 72-55 in the last meeting, stormed to a 7-0 lead in the first quarter. The Lancers led by as many as 14 points in the second quarter and had a 39-30 halftime lead.
But the Warriors rallied to take a 54-53 lead after junior Malique Mason hit a 3-pointer with 6:50 left in the fourth quarter. Deal hit a trey with 5:25 remaining in the period to give Granite City a 59-58 lead.
The Lancers went on a 10-0 run to take a 68-59 lead. But Granite City came back to close out the fourth quarter on a 10-1 run, including Berry’s basket with two seconds left that tied the game at 69-69.
“In the second half, I thought we competed to put ourselves in a position to win the game,” Roustio said.
Belleville East started the overtime period on a 7-2 run to take a 76-71 lead. All seven points were scored by Pickett.
Granite City came back to get within 79-78 after junior Jamie Roustio scored a bucket with 33 seconds left. After Sylvester missed two free throws with 2.9 seconds remaining, the Warriors had a chance to win the game. But Ron Allen’s inbounds pass sailed out of bounds.
“It’s a good win,” Schrader said. “Granite City is a good team. They’ve got size and they got some good guards. We didn’t do things down the stretch in regulation that we needed to do, like making free throws and taking care of the basketball a couple of times, to win it outright. But we still kept fighting.”
Roustio said he was pleased with his team’s effort despite the loss.
“To give up 39 points, not play very well in the first half and be down nine on the floor against a team that’s got the No. 4 seed in the regional-sectional field, fight back and take the lead, I’m proud of our guys that we showed a lot of heart,” the Granite City coach said.
“We had some turnovers late in the game that cost us and we couldn’t get two or three stops put together.”
Also on Friday, the Warriors found out their postseason schedule. They received the No. 7 seed in sub-sectional B of the Class 4A Collinsville Sectional and will play Collinsville at 7 p.m. on Feb. 29 in a first-round game at the Alton Regional. Granite City beat the Kahoks two out of three meetings this season.