BELLEVILLE - The Edwardsville girls' basketball team came from behind in the final quarter, tying the game with 1:30 left to climax a 13-0 run. But four missed free throws in the final minute proved costly as Belleville East defeated the Tigers 37-35 in the semifinals of the IHSA Class 4A regional at the Lancers' gym.
The Tigers had won 18 consecutive regional titles and the loss marked the earliest exit for Edwardsville since a 41-29 loss to Triad in the Class AA regional semifinal at Triad on Feb. 11, 2002.
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Edwardsville trailed 18-14 at halftime and 30-22 after three quarters, with East scoring the first five points of the period to lead 35-22 before the Tigers went on its 13-0 run to tie the game. After hitting on five straight free throws to cut the lead to 35-27, an Ellie Neath three and a Lainey McFarlin basket cut the Lancer lead to 35-32. with free throws by Emerson Weller and Zay Hoover drawing Edwardsville level at 35-35.
Late free throws by Aury Brierton and Sophia Tantillo, along with four missed free throws by the Tigers, proved to be the difference as the Lancer got the win and advanced.
Weller led the Tigers with 12 points, with Neath adding seven points. Kamora Davis led East with 12 points, while Taylor Smith had 10 points and Brierton added nine points.
In 2022, Edwardsville's girls advanced to the super-sectional before losing to Bolingbrook 55-53.
The Edwardsville season ends at 16-13, while the Lancers are now 10-16 and play O'Fallon, a 71-21 winner over Belleville West, In the final Thursday evening at 7 p.m.
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