COLUMBIA, Mo. — No matter how many times he gets whacked, bumped or poked around the basket Macaleab “Buddy” Rich has to keep his cool.Whether the whistle blows or not.A senior swingman for the East St. Louis boys basketball team, the solidly built 6-foot-7 Rich has grown accustomed to it.“He’s bumped a lot. He kind of gets the Shaq treatment because he’s a big body,” East Side coach Mark Chambers said. “We don’t call fouls in practice for that reason. He’s used to it.”Rich was excellent once again as he scored 21 points, grabbed three rebounds, handed out five assists as he was named the most valuable player as East St. Louis beat Jefferson City 74-61 in the Norm Stewart Classic Saturday at Mizzou Arena.The No. 3 large school in the rankings, East St. Louis (8-1) has won three successive games since it lost 38-37 at Collinsville on Dec. 9. That defeat refocused the Flyers as they continue through a winter with sky-high expectations.

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“We put that in the past, moved on to the next and keep playing hard,” Rich said.The Flyers have such lofty expectations because they have a team that’s capable of achieving them. East Side doesn’t have a true point guard, but shares the ball extremely well. Five players had two or more assists against the Jays on Saturday. Even the Kansas State-bound Rich initiated the offense at times as well.“We’re going to do this as a team. We use guard by committee,” Chambers said. “We’re going to win as a team, it’s not individuals. We have so many guys that can dribble, that can handle, that can shoot and we’re going to use that to our advantage.”Senior guard Antwan Robinson is one of those guys. The 6-foot-6 Cal State Fullerton recruit knocked down four 3-pointers as he scored 19 points, grabbed five rebounds and handed out three assists. He also had a block and a steal, too.Junior guard Dainen Rucker had 11 points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals. Senior forward Demarion Brown had 13 points, five rebounds, two assists, two steals and a block, too.When East Side is really clicking, it can get production from all five players on the court.“We’re playing as team, being unselfish, moving the ball because on our team everybody can do everything,” Robinson said.East St. Louis led 21-13 after the first quarter and pushed its lead to 31-19 with 4 minutes and 47 seconds to play in the second quarter when a strange series took place. After a foul was called on the Flyers and the teams lined up for the free throws, Rich was tagged with a technical foul. The reason given to the East St. Louis bench was Rich did not hand the ball back to the referee and instead set it down near him.The technical foul had consequences as Jefferson City hit on three of four free throws and on its ensuing possession converted a 3-point play to cut the lead to 31-25 with 4:47 to play in the period.Jefferson City (4-3) got as close as 31-27 before Rich powered home a dunk and converted a free throw on the other end. The Flyers took a 42-34 lead into halftime.The Jays came out for the third quarter cooking as they went on a 14-7 run to cut the Flyers’ lead to 49-48 with 2:21 in the third. Jefferson City sophomore guard Jordan Martin was dynamic as he had six of his game-high 24 points in the spurt. He finished with six rebounds, too.East St. Louis led 53-51 at the end of the third quarter. It did enough early in the fourth quarter to extend its lead and really broke things open in the final three minutes. Rich had a dunk and when the Flyers stole the ball near midcourt on the next possession he was able to fly in for a wicked windmill dunk that shook the backboard and put an exclamation point on the win.“Offensively we didn’t execute a few possessions and they were able to stay in it,” Chambers said. “We stayed the course and did what we needed to do to come out with a double-digit win.” is the most comprehensive source of stats, scores and stories from any and all area high schools.

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