COLLINSVILLE — The Edwardsville Tigers took their first step toward extending their super successful season into a memorable postseason on Thursday.
They did it with a 70-33 rout of the Belleville East Lancers in the championship game of the Class 4A Collinsville Regional.
The Tigers own a perfect 28-0 record.
“You don’t think about that side of it,” Edwardsville head coach Lori Blade said on winning another regional championship, the Tigers’ 14th straight. “You just try to take it game by game.”
Edwardsville’s Criste’on Waters also surpassed 1,000 career points in the regional championship victory. She finished the night with 12 points.
“It feels good,” Waters said. “It feels good to be a part of the 1,000 point club, me and Rachel (Pranger) and Makenzie (Silvey). It’s just a good feeling all around, it’s super special. I was surprised, I thought I was super far away. I’m just happy I got it. I’m looking forward to going to state. I don’t want my season to end on a loss, I want to go out with a bang. Hopefully, we can do that.”
Blade talked about the struggles Waters faced in her career.
“Hard to believe, from the injuries she’s been through,” she said. “But she’s battled through and been a warrior for us. It’s great to see her reach that milestone.”
The Tigers placed four players in double figures, as Pranger led the way with 16 points, Myriah Noodel-Haywood finished with 15, Silvey threw in 13 and Waters added her 12.
Edwardsville led the contest from the onset, when Silvey nailed a 3-pointer 19 seconds into the first quarter and never trailed, but the game was still close in the early minutes.
Kaylah Rainey’s field goal at the 2:06 mark tied the game up at 10-10, but Silvey’s basket at the 1:43 mark ignited a 5-0 run and the Tigers led 15-10 at the end of the first quarter.
“They feed off of each other,” Blade said. “And they’re very unselfish. Like I’ve said they’re chemistry is good. They’ll make that extra pass without any hesitation at all.”
Edwardsville continued to build on its lead in the second quarter and led 34-16 at halftime. Belleville East’s offense struggled to control the ball throughout the contest, as it committed 20 turnovers.
The Tigers’ rebounding proved to be key on both offense and defense.
“We made some silly turnovers,” Belleville East coach Amanda Kemezys said. “Rebounding, we didn’t have an answer for them on the boards. So, that was unfortunate. There’s a reason why they’re 28-0 right now, up and down the lineup they are very talented. Our girls didn’t back down from the challenge, but we didn’t have answers when we needed them.”
The Lancers continued to struggle in the third quarter, as Edwardsville held a commanding 50-23 lead at the end of the quarter. Kaylah Rainey lead the Lancers’ offense with 13 points.
The Tigers will play the winner of the Springfield Regional on 7 p.m. Monday in the Normal Community Sectional semifinals. The contest will be played at Collinsville High School.
Edwardsville has to wait to find out who it will play, as Springfield and O’Fallon square off at 7 p.m. Friday at Springfield High.
The Tigers were ranked No. 3 in the last Associated Press 4A state poll of the regular season. The Senators were an honorable mention.
CLASS 4A COLLINSVILLE REGIONAL
EDWARDSVILLE 70, BELLEVILLE EAST 33
Tigers 15 19 16 20 — 70
Lancers 10 6 7 10 — 33
Tigers (28-0) — Rachel Pranger 16, Myriah Noodel-Haywood 15, Megan Silvey 13, Criste’on Waters 12, Kate Martin 9, Quierra Love 2, Maria Smith 2, Jaylen Townsend 1. 2FG — 19 3FG — 3 FT — 23 PF — 11.
Lancers (20-10) — Kaylah Rainey 13, Bryce Dowell 8, Nyah Ford 4, Brittany Nitz 3,Jailyn McClenny 2, Destiny Johnson 2, Hannah Mitchell 1. 2FG – 8 3FG – 3 FT — 8 PF — 22.