Kate Martin hit a clutch basket with 2 seconds left for the Tigers on Tuesday. (Photo by Brent Feeney)

Crist'eon Waters led the way for the Tigers on Tuesday with 16 points. (Photo by Brent Feeney)BELLEVILLEKate Martin scored eight points for Edwardsville in the Southwestern Conference girls basketball clash at Belleville East Tuesday night.

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Two of those points, though, which came with 2.4 seconds to go in regulation time, were key.

Those two points let the Tigers grab the lead over the Lancers, who had led most of the night. And they came from the free-throw line, proving the old adage that practice makes perfect; Martin is at the gym each morning with the rest of the Tigers practicing foul shots. “We shoot 100 free throws in the morning before school,” Tiger coach Lori Blade said. “Kate's always the first one in, so that's a little payback for her,' Blade said.

Those shots helped give the Tigers a 49-47 win over the Lancers, a win that put EHS at 20-1 for the season and 8-1 in the SWC. It didn't come easily, however. The Lancers had led most of the way in the game, the Tigers finally grabbing a lead thanks to a Martin basket with 2:10 to go at 45-44, a Rachel Pranger score with 1:21 left putting EHS up 47-44 with 1:21 left.

East had tied it up on a Elisha Davis three-pointer with 55.5 seconds to go at 47-47; Edwardsville, on the ensuing possession, elected to go for a game-winning score, calling time out with 16 seconds left and again with 3.5 seconds to set up a play. “After they hit that three to tie it up, we wanted to control and make sure we were going to get that last shot,” Blade said. “The kids executed well there at the end; we knew they would go with Makenzie (Silvey) and Rachel (Pranger); we thought we'd find Kate over the top and we wanted her to be aggressive.

“Worse-case scenario, getting to the free-throw line,” and that's exactly what happened; Tamar Mosby was called for a foul when Martin was about to attempt a shot that would have put the Tigers ahead. That was the Lancers' 10th foul of the second half, which put Martin at the line for two shots, which Martin knocked down calmly. The Lancers inbounded and fired a shot from near midcourt as the buzzer sounded that fell short to preserve the win.

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The win didn't come particularly easy for the Tigers, which Blade acknowledged. “We just couldn't get over the hump for a long time,” Blade said. “I just told the them in there that it was a four-point game and we had four possessions and we just turned them over.

“That gets kind of scary in the third quarter when you do that on their home floor and they're shooting it well. That we persevered and we showed a lot of grit tonight to stick together and execute when we had to execute.

“I thought we rebounded well throughout the game, my post being on the bench most of the second quarter didn't help any, but Annie (Ellis) gave us some good minutes and Jasmine (Bishop) gave us some good minutes; they took us out of our game a little bit at times. I think part of it was them and part of it was us, but luckily, we bounced back enough to pull it out.”

Crist'eon Waters led the way for the Tigers with 16 points, with Pranger adding 12 and Aailyah Box getting six. Davis and Myriah Haywood each had 14 points for the Lancers (14-7 overall, 8-3 in the league).

The Lancers won the junior-varsity curtain-raiser, East taking a 53-43 win over Edwardsville.

Next up for Edwardsville is a Thursday night home date against Belleville West before Granite City comes calling Feb. 2.

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