After two losses in a row, the boys O’Fallon Panther basketball team picked up a big win last Friday night in a close battle with the East St. Louis Flyers.
In their second to last home game of the season, the Panthers turned in a 48 point night against the Flyers to win the game by just four points. Despite having a slight lead for a majority of the game, O’Fallon found themselves tied with the Flyers, 26-26 at the half.
East St. Louis kept OTHS at bay in the third quarter and took a 37-34 lead during the third quarter. The Panther defense went to work in the fourth quarter, limiting the Flyers to only seven points and allowing O’Fallon to inch out a narrow 48-44 win.
Although O’Fallon’s offensive struggles continued on Friday night, their defense put on one its best showings all season long.
“East St. Louis is a high scoring team and we held them to a low score of 44 points. We did a good job of defending our guys, not letting them get to the basket, and we did a great job of checking guys off and rebounding. Our defense won the game for us,” said head coach Rick Gibson.
Chance Armstrong had one of his best offensive performances of the year against the Flyers with 17 points. The 6-foot-3 OTHS senior went five for eight from the free-throw line and tacked on three assists to help his team defeat the Flyers for the second time this season.
“He played really well,” said Gibson on Armstrong. “We need him getting close to twenty points a night and when he does, he makes us a different team. He rebounded and defended well also, he really had a big game for us.”
Sophomore Jalen Hodge and junior Deion Norfleet combined to add 13 points to Armstrong’s effort and boost the Panthers over the Flyers. On defense the Panthers rebounded 22 times to the Flyers 31.
The final stretch of regular season games for the Panthers will not get any easier. On Tuesday night OTHS travels to Edwardsville to face off against the Tigers. Edwardsville got the better of the Panthers in their match in early January. O’Fallon struggled to contain Edwardsville’s all-star Aj Epenesa in the game and allowed for 6-foot-5 center to put up 22 points.
“They’re a tough match up for us. We don’t have the physical guys that we do and it will be a tough game. It will be hard for us to hold them to a low score and we will have to have another great defensive effort,” said Gibson.