EDWARDSVILLE – Edwardsville girls basketball junior point guard Que Love was the game’s leading scorer with 18 points as the Tigers defeated Belleville East 62-54 Tuesday night at Lucco-Jackson Gym in a very hard-fought game.

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The Tigers got three straight three-point baskets in the third quarter to help increase their lead, then clinched the game with good free throw shooting in the fourth quarter.

“Belleville East is a really good team, they’re very athletic and quick and aggressive,” Love said in a postgame interview, “and so we had to adjust to that in particular ways. But I feel like we adjusted to the best of our abilities at this time, and we came out with the win.”

The Lancers were riding on a wave of emotion, having won the Highland Invitational Sunday night over Civic Memorial, and getting senior guard Kaylah Rainey back after Rainey underwent open-heart surgery.

“Yeah, you know it’s amazing Kaylah has come back from such a procedure, but it’s good to play against competition,” Love said. “The best plays against the best, so just excited to see what God has in store for our team.”

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The hard-fought game was typical of the Southwestern Conference, where every game is big, and the competition level is always high. Love and her teammates are always working hard in practice and in games to prepare for the competition.

“You know, we’re just going to keep working hard, keep going towards our goals, achieving them every game,” Love said, “and in practice, and see what happens.”

The Tigers weathered the storm in the opening minutes of the third quarter when Lancers’ forward B’Aunce Carter was taking the game over, sparking East to an 8-0 run that closed the gap to three points before a string of three-point shots helped Edwardsville pull away again, clinching the game with good fourth quarter free throw shooting.

“You know, she’s a very good post, very athletic and strong,” Love said of Carter, “and we had to adjust to the best of our abilities, and just weather the storm. And we won.”

The Tigers are now entering their stretch run with more key conference games before entering the IHSA Class 4A playoffs in February. Love and her teammates will be ready for the Original March Madness when it starts.

“You know, we’re always blessed in every regard to be with each other,” Love said, “have the type of talent that we do have. So we’re just trying to make this year count.”

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