Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Brazil Steps Up to Help Belleville West Reach Elite Eight

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Brazil Steps Up to Help Belleville West Reach Elite Eight

Article excerpt

Belleville West junior Lawrence Brazil III didn't feel any different late last month when he stepped onto the court for the Maroons' first postseason game against rival Belleville East.

But something in the back of Brazil's mind told him it was time to find another gear.

"The biggest thing in the playoffs was I was going to have to become more confident," Brazil said.

Brazil found that confidence, which has helped the Maroons move one step away from reaching the Class 4A state tournament.

The 5-foot-11 spark plug has scored 45 points in his last three games to help continue West's magical run.

"He's played well all season long, but in the postseason he's really played well, both offensively and defensively," Belleville West coach Joe Muniz said.

Belleville West (29-2) squares off against West Aurora (25-4) at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Redbird Arena in the Class 4A Normal Super-Sectional. The winner advances to the state tournament against Elgin Larkin (23-8) or Benet Academy (27-4) at 5:30 p.m. Friday at Carver Arena in Peoria.

The Maroons, who reached the quarterfinals in 2003 under coach Bill Schmidt, are looking to get to the final four for the first time since 1966.

West Aurora, which defeated Bolingbrook 82-67 in the Romeoville Sectional final on Friday, has reached the super-sectional round four times in the last seven seasons.

Brazil has averaged 15.2 points in postseason play five points higher than his regular-season average. In the only game in which he didn't hit double figures, he still led the Maroons with six assists.

"It helps me not being in a hurry all the time," Brazil said. "(My teammates) help me know when to go and when to do things basically."

Brazil said teammates like fellow juniors EJ Liddell and Keith Randolph and seniors Malachi Smith and Curtis Williams have been particularly influential. …

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