BY SAM SCINTA WEEKLY REPORTER
O’Fallon senior Deion Norfleet spent much of first semester this school year continuing to add to his legacy on the gridiron. He’s starting 2017 with his stellar play on the hardwood.
Norfleet turned in perhaps his most complete performance of the season in a pivotal 77-69 road win over the hated Belleville East Lancers, rising to the top at a time when his team needed it the most.
While Jalen Hodge has been lighting up the scoresheet for the Blue and Gold all season, Norfleet’s steady improvement could provide the second playmaker the Panthers have searched for all season.
Norfleet poured in 18 huge points against the Lacers in Belleville, including hitting his first shot from beyond the three-point arc this season.
The guard’s 18 are his most in a single game this season, with four of them in the closing moments that helped put East away for good.
Edwardsville provided a much tougher test for the Panthers, and while O’Fallon couldn’t muster the offense needed to knock off the number three team in the state, Norfleet continued his run of good basketball. The senior contributed ten points, again without much from deep.
“I know that shot isn’t there for me much, so I focus on creating good looks for my teammates and good looks up close for myself before I look for the three,” Norfleet said. “In today’s game the three is so important but it’s easier to get if they have to pay attention to you inside.”
Norfleet’s improved play creates a volatile problem for opposing defenses trying to figure out how to guard the senior alongside Hodge. Teams trying to lock up Hodge beyond the perimeter open up driving lanes for Norfleet to cut to the basket, creating either a layup or a pass to an open shooter.
Norfleet is undecided on a college decision, but will likely have an option to play either sport.