MURPHYSBORO -- All-Tournament Team selection Keith Kiner scored 18 points, and Chester used an 11-point run late in the third quarter to help the Yellow Jackets beat Steeleville, 59-52, in the third place game of the Ernie Bozarth Memorial Tournament/Pioneer Invitational on Dec. 2.
After an Eli Wittenborn layup cut Chester's advantage to 26-25 with 5:49 left in third quarter, the Yellow Jackets took advantage of some sloppy ballhandling by the Warriors and two Kiner dunks to push the lead to 37-25 with 2:12 left in the frame.
"I guess it was just energy, effort on the defensive end," said Chester coach Brad Norman on what he thought ignited the third-quarter surge. "It almost felt like we had to go twice as hard on the defensive end because we were so bad at handling the ball on the offensive end.
"So, we needed two turnovers to take care of one bucket, if that makes any sense."
Steeleville wasn't done, however, as All-Tournament Team selection Owen Gross put the Warriors on his back and scored 12 straight points to cut his team's deficit to 45-44 with four minutes remaining in the game.
Gross finished with 28 points in the loss and at one point had 21 of his team's 37 points.
"Our big thing, and I've talked to the boys about this, is turnovers," said Steeleville coach Aaron Fiene. "We have to limit our turnovers and have better possessions.
"We've got to value the ball as much as we can and we're not valuing the ball as much as we need to, but that's a fixable thing."
Five straight points by the Haberberger twins - Jake and Josh - pulled Chester out of danger and gave the Yellow Jackets a 50-44 lead with 3:25 left. Ian Reith added a three-point play to increase Chester's advantage to nine, 53-44, with 2:30 to go.
"It means I've worked hard," Kiner said on the All-Tournament Team selection. "I'm a team player and I'm ready to get another one."
Jake Haberberger finished with 13 points, and Reith also reached double digits with 12 for the Yellow Jackets.
Austin Hagel added 14 points for Steeleville.
"Steeleville did just a really good job of causing chaos," Norman said. "Compliments to them in working hard and having a good week themselves, but I also felt like maybe we had some shell-shock (Saturday) when we stepped out.
"It's the first time we've really been in a packed house and sometimes I forget these guys are a little bit young as far as experience goes."
Both teams struggled handling the ball in the first half, with Chester responding to an early 6-2 deficit with a 12-point run that bridged the first and second quarters.
Steeleville responded with a 7-2 run of its own to trail 16-13 after a three-point play by Wittenborn with 5:55 left in the second quarter.
Chester took a 22-19 lead into the locker room at halftime.
"Most people do know that basketball is a game of runs," Fiene said. "Doing your own runs and sustaining against them.
"We got out of our game a little bit, credit to Chester, Coach Norman had them kids really working good and they worked really hard pressuring our ball."
Both teams have busy weeks this week. Steeleville (2-3) began Cahokia Conference Kaskaskia Division play with three straight home conference games on Monday (Valmeyer), Tuesday (Red Bud) and Friday (Marissa-Coulterville).
After playing five straight games, Chester gets a little bit of a breather until Wednesday, when the Yellow Jackets visit Vienna for its Black Diamond Conference opener.
The Yellow Jackets (4-1) will play their first game inside Colbert Memorial Gymnasium on Friday night against Sesser-Valier-Waltonville. It is the first of only two home games for Chester in the month of December, with the other being Dec. 19 against Anna-Jonesboro.