EDWARDSVILLE – The East Alton-Wood River girls basketball team scored the first 20 points of the game, including an 18-0 first quarter, as the Oilers defeated Metro-East Lutheran 52-34 on Wednesday evening at Hooks Gymnasium.

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The Oilers ended a five-game losing streak that started 2019 to go to 11-8, while the Knights fell to 10-7.

The Oilers shot the ball very well and played good defense, especially in the first half, to lead them to the win.

“Absolutely,” said EAWR coach Joe Parmentier. “We’ve lost five straight now in 2019, so we came out and shot the ball really well, and our defense played really well in the first half. That 18-0 lead really was nice for us to get that kind of a lead, and we haven’t been shooting the ball well the last five games, but it’s nice coming out and getting a good win against a good ball club.”

The Oilers have been one of the St. Louis area’s surprise teams, as they haven’t had a winning season in 14 years.

“Well, you know, I didn’t really expect this kind of a season,” Parmentier said, “because I knew we were a year away from being really good. We had seven wins last year, and now we got our 11th win this year, so I was expecting big things next year, but having LeighAnne (Nottke) and the girls, they just work their tail off. She had 13 points tonight, but she just controls the offense, she does everything I ask her to do. She’s a coach on the floor, and does a great job.”

Parmentier thought that the Oilers had a great team effort throughout, and were able to contain the Knights when they were without junior guard Destiny Williams.

“(Williams) is just a ton,” Parmentier said. “We couldn’t press her when she was in the ball game, but when she was out, I thought we took advantage, because she was out, and she’s just a heck of a ball player. We got Kayla Brantley back from a knee injury, and she got 14 points, but Jayden Ulrich had a heck of a game, and I really thought my daughter (Taylor Parmentier) played well inside, getting a lot of rebounds. It was a great team effort for us.”

The Knights did get off to the tough start, and were able to battle back, but things didn’t go well for them throughout the game.

“It was just one of those games where nothing went right,” said Metro-East coach Rob Stock. “We came out flat and never recovered, and it was just a disappointing night all around.”

The Knights kept battling throughout, but could never dig out of the hole, and the Oilers played and shot well throughout.

“They shot the ball really well,” Stock said, “and we did not. So, we’ve got to do some things better. We turned the ball over way too much, we didn’t rebound, didn’t play that great of defense, so a lot of things, we’ve got to clean up.”

The Knights started out well, but have run into a slump the last few games. Stock feels that effort and hard work will help the team out in the long run.

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“It’s just going to take some effort, some hard work,” Stock said. “We know we're a better team than what we showed tonight, and it’s a matter of getting back to some basics, and making sure that we’re doing the things we did starting the season.”

The Oilers started out the game by scoring the opening 18 points, starting with an Aubrey Robinson three in the game’s opening minute, followed by a Robinson basket and a free throw from Ulrich that made it 6-0. A three from Nottke, baskets from Ulrich, Karli Withers and Parmentier, and another three from Brantley made the score 18-0 at quarter time.

Ulrich scored off a steal at the start of the second quarter and scored to make it 20-0 before Taylor Bradley banked home a shot in the paint with 7:32 left to score the Knights’ first basket. Bradley added another basket before Ulrich connected on a three to make it 23-4. The Knights outscored the Oilers 9-7 in the remainder of the period, led by Williams and Sami Kasting, but EAWR led at halftime 30-13.

Williams started the second half with a baseline drive to score, then traded threes with Robinson to make the score 33-18 early on, but Brantley hit on another three to stretch the Oiler lead to 36-18. The rest of the quarter was played on level terms, with EAWR outscoring Metro-East 8-6 as Nottke helped lead the way to give the Oilers a 44-24 edge at three-quarter time.

The two teams traded baskets to start the fourth quarter before Williams stole the ball and scored to make it 46-28. Later, with the score 48-28, Williams was called for a charge and fouled out with 5:06 left. Stock was then assessed a technical foul after arguing the call, and Brantley hit one of the two subsequent free throws to make it 49-28. The Oilers hit three free throws down the stretch to help make the final 52-34.

Brantley led the way for the Oilers with 14 points, while Nottke added 13 and Robinson 11. Williams was the Knights’ leading scorer with 11 points, followed by Kasting and Bradley with six each.

The Oilers host Litchfield this evening, then travel to Bunker Hill next Monday night and Hillsboro next Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. tip-offs. Parmentier knows that the road ahead will be tough, but is confident of success for his team.

“The bad part about it is that we’re (Class) 3A this year, so that means we’re probably going to run into (Civic Memorial),” Parmentier said, “so we’re going to have to play the best basketball of our lives. But, you know, right now, the big thing for us is that we’ve got that first win, we’ve got Litchfield tomorrow, and these girls, we haven’t had a winning season since 2005, so we’re pretty excited about where it’s at right now, and we realize that we’re a year away from a really good ball club.

“I just love being around these girls,” Parmentier continued. “They’re all juniors, and a couple of seniors and a lot of sophomores. You know, they just play so hard, and if we could just shoot a little bit better; we did tonight. But I’m just really proud of ‘em.”

The Knights next play Granite City in the Carrollton Shootout on Saturday morning at 11 a.m., then go to Gillespie on Jan. 28. Stock is hoping that his team will be able to compete and work hard every night.

“We’re just looking to compete,” Stock said. “That’s what we look for every game. We’ve got to come out and compete; unfortunately, we didn’t do that all that well tonight. As long as we’re coming out and playing to the best of our abilities, that’s all I can ask of the girls.”

And Stock also hopes that the Knights will keep plugging away in every game.

“We’re hoping so,” Stock said. “There are little tweaks here and there we can make, but we’ve got the talent. We’ve just got to clean a few things up.”

Dan Brannan also contributed to this story.

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