OTHS Charity LAX Game

Boys vs Girls Charity LAX game is back in 2016

OTHS Charity LAX Game

(O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Nathan Poignee)

It was the battle of the sexes last Saturday when the boys and girls Panther lacrosse teams faced off against each other in the annual boys versus girls charity event.

The game, a true one of its kind, has taken place for several years and after being missed last year, was gladly welcomed back this season. Created by a former O’Fallon alumni, Brynn Laverdure, all of the game’s ticket money is donated to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

During the game all of the boys wear pink shirts while girls wear blue and both teams swap gear.

“It’s a good time and it’s for a good cause,” said girls head coach Rob Garrison. “The kids go out, goof around and have fun. Parents and students come to watch and it’s all for a good cause. We hope to do it as long as we can.”

OTHS Charity LAX Game

(O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Nathan Poignee)

OTHS Boys Tennis

OTHS boys tennis takes second in Triad Tourney

OTHS Boys Tennis

(Submitted Photo)

The boys varsity team battled hard on the court last weekend to earn a second place finish in the Triad Tournament.

O’Fallon finished in second out of a sixteen team tournament that included Belleville East, Belleville West, Triad, and Althoff. Jacobs high school took home the first place hardware while Belleville West and East finished third and fourth respectively.

On their way to their second place plaque O’Fallon defeated Sacred Heart Griffin, Carbondale, and Belleville West before losing to eventual champions Jacobs High. The Panthers blanked Sacred Heart Griffin 5-0 before moving on to narrowly defeat Carbondale 3-2. After a close match with Carbondale O’Fallon easily put down SWC rivals Belleville West 4-1 and were just barely edged out by Jacobs 3-2.

Varsity head coach Erin Thoman credits her team’s early tournament success to hard work and team chemistry.

“They battled every match and were always right there in the game no matter what,” said Thoman.” We are very big on team this year and everyone plays with the common goal to win as a team. Everyone was very encouraging of each other over the weekend and it helped us out.”

The junior varsity Panther team also competed in the Triad tournament. O’Fallon’s JV squad finished in 14th place, losing to Belleville West, Althoff and Effingham and defeating Sacred Heart Griffin 4-1.

This week the Panthers, who currently sit at 5-3 this season, will have an action packed week. Action on the court will start on Tuesday in a conference clash with Collinsville on OTHS’s home courts. On Thursday the team will compete in the Triad Duals and on Saturday will host the OTHS Quad meet. This year the OTHS Quad is filled with tough competition that includes Mascoutah, Champaign Central, Greenville, and O’Fallon.

With lots of play this week, coach Thoman has her team focusing hard in their limited practice time.

“We don’t get a lot of time to prepare for some important matches. Our practices have been more focused and everyone is working extra hard to be ready,” said Thoman.

Luckily for Thoman and the Panthers, they bolster a deep roster that will help the team in stretches of tough competition. So far this season, O’Fallon High’s depth has allowed the team has aligned them with their pre-season expectations.

“This team has good talent all around. The amount of work that everyone has put in in both the off-season and this season in practice has really started to pay off for us,” said Thoman. “It will be nice to play on our home courts this weekend against some really good teams.”

Victor Annan

Hinchcliffe student honored as member of OTHS Lax team

Victor Annan

Victor Annan (Submitted Photo)

On March 31st the boys’ varsity Lacrosse team celebrated a 14-2 victory over Belleville Township High but, an even bigger victory took place on the game’s sidelines for Victor Annan.

Annan, 11, is a fifth grader at Hinchcliffe Elementary with Cerebral Palsy and is non-verbal. A huge sports fan, Annan was made an honorary captain for the Panther team during the game.  Before the game started Annan enjoyed the team’s pre-game speech in the locker room and Panther captains escorted Annan onto the field where he assisted in the opening coin toss. During the game, Annan enjoyed the best seat in the house next to the Panther bench.

The next day at school, Annan brought the coin from the opening toss and the game ball with him to school. Hinchcliffe Principal, Kristie Belobrajdic, was in attendance for the special game.

“He was so excited,” said Belobrajdic. “He brought the coin and the ball with him and had them on his desk the next day. For him to be able to save those and bring them with him when he is non-verbal is pretty amazing.”

Varsity assistant coach Nick Ricucci is an aid in Victor’s classroom and first brought the idea to Belobrajdic.  Annan’s teacher, Heidi Mueller, as well as six or seven other staff members were there for the game.

“Victor had his own fan-club there,” Belobrajdic said. “It was a really neat night for him and he was excited all night. We really hope to do it again.”

OTHS Boys Volleyball

Boys Volleyball takes second at Rockwood Summit Tourney

OTHS Boys Volleyball

The boys volleyball team celebrates their second place victory at Rockwood Summit. (Submitted Photo)

After an unblemished start, the boys’ varsity volleyball team was finally defeated this season in the finals of the Rockwood Summit tournament.

The two teams split games earlier in the tournament during pool play but, unfortunately O’Fallon was unable to overcome the Cougars late in the tournament. It was a streaky game for the Panthers who lost the championship match in two games. Despite several good point runs in both games by OTHS, the Cougars defeated Panthers 25-16, 25-18.

Unforced errors were a key in preventing the otherwise excellent O’Fallon squad from taking home the first place hardware. According to varsity head coach Katelyn Hagarty, fatigue from a long weekend of play impacted the team’s performance.

“We started to know what to expect from them but at the end of the tournament it’s always tiring because we aren’t used to playing that many matches in that short of a time yet. We would make a good run and then make several errors in a row but, overall we played pretty well,” said Hagarty.

During the tournament the Panthers defeated both Fort Zumwalt East and Metro-East Lutheran in two games. After the tournament, the team bolsters an impressive 7-1-1 record.

Earlier in the week, the OTHS team claimed a pair of conference wins over Belleville West and Alton. The Panthers cut it close in game one but, edged out the Maroons by a score of 25-22. In game two O’Fallon found its stride and put away West 25-15. The Alton Redbirds proved less of a challenge for O’Fallon, who took a quick 25-5, 25-11 conference win.

Although the toughest part of the season is yet to come for O’Fallon, coach Hagarty is pleased with her teams conference wins from last week,

“The team truly played well together. All around the passing was awesome which led to good hits, sets, and smart decision making overall which helped us a lot. We played really well as a team,” said Hagarty.

This week the Panthers will compete in a Southwestern Conference match against the East St. Louis Flyers on Thursday. On Saturday the team will travel across the river to compete in tournament action at Fort Zumwalt South against stacked Missouri teams.

Junior Max Schaefer

Panthers come up big after back to back losses to defeat Chaminade

Junior Max Schaefer

Junior Max Schaefer allowed no hits in the first inning Thursday against the Kahoks.
(O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Becca Jones-Scales)

O’Fallon got on the board early on Thursday against Collinsville with a one run lead in the first inning thanks to senior Dillon Weiss. The Kahoks struck back in the second inning with a run to tie the game and took over the lead with two runs in the fourth. Unable to come back, the Panthers fell to Collinsville 4-2 in their first conference loss of the season.

It was a similar story on Friday for the Panthers when they hosted Naperville Central.  Senior Camden Bauer was the first to score on Friday. Bauer scored after junior Jordan Richardson was walked with two outs in the bottom of the third inning. Richardson’s walk was the third walked batter of the inning for Naperville Central Pitcher Ryan Elermann. In the top of the fourth inning Naperville brought in two runs and added two more in the seventh for a 4-1 finish.

Despite losing two in a row, head coach Jason Portz was not disappointed in his team.

“We have played a lot of games at the start of the season. Our guys started dragging a bit and we are looking forward to getting back into practice this week. From time to time you will have some let downs but I was overall very happy with how we played last week,” said Portz

Although they dropped two games in a row, the Panthers managed to bounce back and battled their way to a gritty win over Chaminade on Saturday.

A two-run home run from Chaminade’s Zimmermann put the Panthers down by three runs heading into the bottom of the third inning. A pair of Chaminade infield errors made way for Panthers Jared Dalonzo and Bradley Snyder to score and cut the Red Devil’s lead to one run.

Tied at 4-4 in the bottom of the sixth, Bradley Harrison hit a blast over the right field fence for a solo home run and the first Panther lead of the game.  A single into centerfield by Joe Guithues scored Bauer and was enough to cement O’Fallon with the 6-4 win.

“We played cleaner defense,” said Portz. “It was a really good effort while we were down by three early. Our kids battled and scratched their way back in to it.”

This week O’Fallon will host Belleville East in an anticipated Southwestern Conference matchup on Thursday. On Saturday the team will play at Civic Memorial.

“Belleville East is always a quality conference game and we’re looking forward to getting a leg up on them,” said Portz. “Hopefully we can continue to play good defense and pitching. We would like to see our offense break out a little bit and that will help us out.”

O'Fallon LAX

O’Fallon boys Lax defeates BTHS in first ever meeting

O'Fallon LAX

Caleb Neff battles a Belleville Township High School defender (O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Nathan Poignee)

Last Thursday the Panther boy’s lacrosse team hosted Belleville Township for the time ever.

The combined Belleville West and East team, better known as the BTHS Pride, are competing with O’Fallon in the Missouri Scholastic Lacrosse Association for the first time this year.

O’Fallon head coach Jim McIntyre is excited about what the game means for the growth of lacrosse in the area.

“The game was really special in a lot of ways,” said McIntyre. “When we started the team in 2008 we had one major goal to grow the sport. Every weekend the folks in Belleville have had to travel three or four hours each way just to play. Now that they are in the MSLA, it is a great step forward for the game. Thursday marked the very first sanctioned boy’s lacrosse game between two historic Southwestern Conference schools.”

OTHS defeated BTHS 14-2 in their first ever meeting.

Senior Panther Caleb Neff got the scoring going early with a hat trick in the first quarter. Including Neff, six different Panthers scored. Senior captain Mike Foytlin earned a double hat trick with three goals and three assists, and senior Shane McIntyre added a hat trick of his own. Other Panthers registering goals against BTHS included Ricardo Pena with two goals, and both Clint Van Etten and Harrison Berry added one a piece. Junior Hayden Ourada had four assists in the game.

With the win over BTHS, coach McIntyre is pleased with how his team is playing.

O'Fallon LAX

Mike Foyltin fires the game opening goal against BTHS.
(O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Nathan Poignee)

“Foytlin is really starting to assert himself as the quarterback of the offense and Jack Belobrajdic is thriving. Jack is the anchor of our defense in both leadership and play,” said McIntyre.

After BTHS the O’Fallon squad’s schedule picks up in difficulty quickly. This Tuesday the team will host conference opponents Hazelwood. Following Hazelwood the Panthers will face off with Wentzville and Ladue in the next few weeks.

“Hazelwood is always very athletic and incredibly well coached. What they might lack in finesse they make up for in pure hustle. It’s a very big game for us,” said McIntyre.  These upcoming games are the meat of our season. They are the teams we expect to face off in the post season. It’s a real barometer on what we need to change or focus on going into the post-season.”

On Saturday the team will square off against the girl’s team in the annual Boys vs Girls game. The game, started by a former OTHS alumni, is a charity event.  The JV game will start at six with the varsity game following at 7:15 in the Panther Athletic Complex.

The boy’s team will also be hosting a silent auction and dinner fundraiser at the O’Fallon Knights of Columbus building Friday night at 7pm.

OTHS Baseball

Panthers Baseball impress in Rawlings Classic

 

OTHS Baseball

Senior Camden Bauer pitches against the Athens Eagles.
(O’Fallon Weekly Photo Becca Jones-Scales)

The varsity Panther baseball team welcomed the spring season with a successful weekend on the diamond in the 2016 Rawlings Select Classic tournament held in Cartersville, Georgia.

O’Fallon fought off the Punxsutawney Chucks and the Ralston Valley Mustangs in the first two rounds of play to make their way into the semifinal round. Looking to win their way into the championship match, the Panthers squared off with the South Dade Buccaneers from Florida.

The Buccaneers produced early offense in the top of the first inning and held onto a four run lead until outfielder Bradley Harrison cracked a line drive double into centerfield. Dillon Weiss and Josh Gibson both scored on Harrison’s two run RBI and cut the Buccaneers lead in half. In the bottom of the fourth inning Bradley Snyder evening the game up at 4-4 on a single into centerfield that scored both Jared Dalonzo and Weiss.

Tied at 4-4, the Buccaneers found offense late in the game. The South Dade High team added two runs in the top of the fifth and sixth inning. O’Fallon cut the lead down to two runs thanks to a triple into right field by Gibson that scored Weiss. Snyder followed Gibson’s triple with a sacrifice fly to bring the game to an 8-6 score in the top of the seventh inning. The Buccaneer bats warmed up again in the final inning of play, making way for a five run inning. Unable to neutralize, the Panthers fell in the semifinal match 13-6. South Dade would go on to win the Rawlings Select Classic.

Despite the defeat to South Dade in Georgia marking the first tally in the loss column for OTHS this season, head Coach Jason Portz is pleased with his team’s performance.

“It was a very successful trip for us,” said Portz. “We finished in the top four out of twenty teams and played very well. I feel like our team really came together as a group. The young kids really stepped up to the level of competition we were up against. I think it was most certainly the best performance we have had on our spring trip in the fourteen years I have coached at O’Fallon.”

Several Panthers had standout performances at the Rawlings Classic including senior Camden Bauer who threw a five inning no hitter against Athens High School in the final game of the trip. In his stellar outing, Bauer recorded one strike out, 11 first pitch strikes, and two RBIs at the plate. O’Fallon won the game with a dominant 13-0 shutout.

OTHS Baseball

Junior Joe Guithues slides home for a run against the Eagles.
(O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Becca Jones-Scales)

Bauer along with fellow teammates Nathan Martin, Josh Gibson, Bradley Snyder, Chase Hackstadt, Bradley Harrison, Jordan Richardson, Dillon Weiss, Jared Dalonzo, and Logan Boente were all named to the Rawlings Classic All-Tournament team.

“It was a great opportunity for us to become closer as teammates both on and off the field. I’m really excited to see what this season has in store,” said junior Dominic Smiley.

With their three wins over the weekend, the Panthers improved their overall season record to 7-1. This week OTHS will Alton on Tuesday and Collinsville on Thursday. This weekend the Panthers will compete in and host a round-robin tournament that includes several teams from up state. O’Fallon’s first action in the round-robin will take place on Friday against Naperville Central High School.

After adding a few more wins under their belt, Portz wants his team to keep looking forward and not get too comfortable.

“We can’t focus too much on the past but, instead just build upon it. If we walk around with our chest pumped high and get to high on ourselves someone in the Southwestern Conference will humble us fast. We could have won the game against South Dade but, the key is that we bounced right back in the next game. We just want our team to get better day in and day out,” said Portz.

OTHS Boys Tennis

Experience and depth hope to boost Panthers ahead of competition on the court

OTHS Boys Tennis   The OTHS boy’s tennis team is losing half of its top six players from last year but, there are no signs of the team’s success slowing down.

Year-round practice and preparation has allowed the Panthers to develop into a team brimming with depth. Strong in all spots of their roster this year, it will be a competitive battle for the team’s top spots.

“Our depth is incredible this year,” said head coach Erin Thoman. “Everyone put in a lot of work during the off-season and its showing.”

The Panthers still have a few weeks before they take the court on March 29th in a meet with Alton High School. Until then, the team is preparing and working hard to figure out who fill in for the varsity roster.

“Nothing is set yet. It’s all varying for now and with the depth that we have, it could stay that way for the first part of the season,” said Thoman.

While a majority of the varsity spots are up for grabs, several Panthers are expected to help anchor the deep roster. Returning and looking to make an impact for the Panthers are sophomore Dominic Macaluso, and seniors Riley Muren, Shree Patel, and Prem Patel. OTHS Boys Tennis

The top Panther netters will have a lot to prove this season against tough competition in the Southwestern Conference. Despite losing three seniors to graduation from last year’s roster, Thoman does not anticipate her team to miss a beat.

“We can compete with the top teams,” said Thoman. “Edwardsville, East, and West are always tough but we can play with them. We had an awesome season last year and I think we can do it again.”

Last season Thoman and the Panthers had a great season that took them all the way to a Sectional title and 20th place in the IHSA State Tournament.

Home matches for the Panthers this season include Alton High School in March, East St. Louis and Belleville East High Schools in April, and Granite City in May.

IMG_6869 cropped

OTHS Girls Soccer

Lady Panther soccer preps for another strong season

OTHS Girls Soccer   A mix of returning varsity players and fresh new faces will combine to take the field for the OTHS Lady Panther soccer team this spring.

After graduating 11 seniors from last year’s roster, the Lady Panthers will have to adapt quickly to the varsity pace if they want to hang in the always tough Southwestern Conference. Luckily for head coach Craig Dippel and the Panthers, a number of experienced varsity starters are returning.

The Panther roster in 2016 will include seniors Sydney Brake, Catie Mitchell, Amber Brunner, Jennifer Craddick, Makenna Baxter, Stephanie Kalteis, and KK Voelker. O’Fallon’s seven seniors will help lead through experience and a unique rotation of alternating captains. In recent years the Panthers have changed how they approached their leadership.

“By shifting captains between the seniors each game, it really gives ownership of the team to the players,” said head coach Craig Dippel. “The seniors know the program, know what’s expected of them, and are more comfortable than younger players in approaching me with ideas.”

Aside from their seniors, the Panthers will get offensive help from a number of underclassmen.  Last year’s leading scorer for the Panthers, Sam Stutsman, is poised to have another explosive season. Stusman led OTHS in 2015 with seven goals as a freshman and was an honorable mention for the All-Sectional team. Supporting Stutsman are junior Gabby Goerke and sophomore Tamia Cash. Goerke and Cash combined for five goals, six assists, and 16 points last season. All three of Cash’s goals during the 2015 season were game winning goals and she earned All-Conference recognition.

OTHS Girls SoccerOther Lady Panthers returning with varsity experience include juniors Andrea Wieman, Claire Hoover, Maggie Sheerin. Hoover is set to backup starting keeper and senior, Sydney Brake.  Rounding out the varsity roster are Alyssa McMinn, Jessica Hoffer, Amy Muschler, Paige Black, and Lauren Cooper.

Last season O’Fallon fell to Collinsville in the regional final match by a close score of 2-1, and finished the season with a record of 10-7-5. In order to improve on last year’s results, coach Dippel doesn’t plan on changing up to much of the team’s strategy.

“It’s too early to really tell how things will go. The Southwestern conference is always very competitive and we could fall anywhere in the middle of the pack. The girls have shown how cohesive they are already and the team chemistry has been great but, it’s all dependent on our competition,” said Dippel.

Action for the Panthers this season will get underway on March 15th in the 2016 Metro Cup.   The Lady Panthers are scheduled to face off against Waterloo in round one at 7:30 in Edwardsville. Later in the season O’Fallon will compete in the annual St. Dominic Shootout Tournament. As usual the shootout is stacked to the brim with tough competition.

Panther Football Coach Brandon Joggerst wins Semper Fi Award

Coach Joggerst receiveing is Semper Fi award

Coach Joggerst receiveing is Semper Fi award

Last Saturday O’Fallon Panther Head Football Coach Brandon Joggerst was honored by the United States Marine Corps and Glazier Football Clinics with the Semper Fi Coaching Award.

Joggerst has been the head coach for O’Fallon for nine years and has been a part of the Panther coaching staff for 21 years. The award is presented at each Glazier Clinic and is given to coaches who model the Marine Corps leadership values of honor, courage, and commitment.

For Joggerst, football is a job that goes all year long.

“With the role of a coach it’s pretty much a 365 day a year job, especially when you have as many kids participating in your program as we do. You have to constantly make sure that everything is going ok outside of football and school. There is a consistent steadiness that the job requires,” said Joggerst.

Since becoming the head coach in 2007, Joggerst has made two trips to the IHSA Class 7A quarterfinals and won three consecutive Southwestern Conference championships from 2009 to 2011. In 2012 Joggerst lead his team to the second round of the class 8A Playoffs.

Although it is a year round job, Joggerst is grateful for the help he gets from his coaching staff along the way.

“I am very fortunate to have great assistant coaches and everyone takes on certain responsibilities which helps to stop from getting burnt out. We have been blessed to have great coaches and kids,” said Joggerst.

Aside from football Joggerst has coached track and one season of basketball for O’Fallon in the past. His favorite part of coaching is seeing his players grow and their skills progress.

“Seeing the kids continually progress from freshman to senior year is the best part,” said Joggerst. “Both on the field and academically it’s rewarding to see them grow and know you had a small part in helping them to do that.”

Lady Panthers fall in first round of regionals to Belleville West

The OTHS Lady Panthers Basketball team ended their season in the first round of the regional tournament to Belleville West, losing 44-36. The team went 16-12 for the season.

Jayla Stubblefield dribbles past a West defender during their regional tournament match  (O'Fallon Weekly Photo by Nathan Poignee)

Jayla Stubblefield dribbles past a West defender during their regional tournament match
(O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Nathan Poignee)

Althoff and Durk defend the perimeter  (O'Fallon Weekly Photo by Nathan Poignee)

Althoff and Durk defend the perimeter
(O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Nathan Poignee)

JV Golden Girls shine at IDTA State Finals

First Row Left to Right- Captain Izzie Johnson, Captain Ava Hipskind, and Captain Katarina Papachrisanthou.  Second Row from Left to Right (Sophmores)- Head Coach Brittany Underwood, Katie Comeaux, Kaya McSherry, Grace Henderson, Kali Bolton, and Assistant Coach Lauren Sczurko.  Third Row Left to Right (Freshman)- Hannah Gibson, Sienna Salcido, Kennedy Kreidell, Sophia Hoffman, Kayla Sanders, Kai Diltz, Laura Edwards, and Eizabeth Colson. (Submitted Photo)

First Row Left to Right- Captain Izzie Johnson, Captain Ava Hipskind, and Captain Katarina Papachrisanthou.
Second Row from Left to Right (Sophmores)- Head Coach Brittany Underwood, Katie Comeaux, Kaya McSherry, Grace Henderson, Kali Bolton, and Assistant Coach Lauren Sczurko.
Third Row Left to Right (Freshman)- Hannah Gibson, Sienna Salcido, Kennedy Kreidell, Sophia Hoffman, Kayla Sanders, Kai Diltz, Laura Edwards, and Eizabeth Colson. (Submitted Photo)

The Golden Girls JV dance team wrapped up another impressive season earlier this month with a first place finish at the Illinois Drill Team Association (IDTA) State competition in Springfield, Illinois.

O’Fallon’s JV squad continued their season’s undefeated record in the Lyrical category while at the IDTA finals and they also took home a second place finish in the JV Jazz category. During competition this season the ladies have earned six first place trophies in Lyrical performances ,and have a total of four first place and two second place trophies in Jazz.

Aside from adding two impressive trophies to their collection, the team was also awarded with the Team Spirit Award. The accolade is voted on by all the teams at the competition and is given to the team that best represents sportsmanship, spirit, and positive attitude throughout the contest.

The OTHS JV Golden Girls were once again under the direction of head coach Brittany Underwood and assistant coach Lauren Sczurko. Underwood is in her second year of coaching for O’Fallon and is an alumni of the OTHS dance team.

“We had a very successful and talented group of girls this year,” said Underwood. “We’re really blessed to have a lot of experienced girls come into our organization.”

O’Fallon Golden Girls Laura Edwards, Kennedy Kreidell, Katie Comeaux, and Hannah Gibson were all selected as rising stars by the IDTA floor judges for their outstanding showmanship and performance.

A season of success comes at little to no surprise for the JV squad, who started their season off on the right foot during the summer by winning first place for their home routine in the UDA Camp competition at Illinois State University.  Prior to this year, no JV team at OTHS had put together a home routine before. The choreographed routine was put together by Coach Underwood and the team’s captains.

“It was a huge accomplishment for the girls. To be the first team to take a home routine to camp and win with it was the first stepping stone for us to have a good year,” said Underwood.

Leading the JV squad during the 2016-2016 campaign were sophomore captains Izzie Johnson, Ava Hipskind, and Katarina Papachrisanthou.

“The three of them are great motivators and always at practice making sure that when girls are really tired they keep going. They are responsible for keeping the communication going for the whole team and they do a great job of supporting their peers,” said Underwood.

The team is hosting a dance clinic on March 20th for 8th graders that want to try out for the high school team. At the clinic the team will help junior high dancers learn a try-out routine to help ease nerves and make the tryouts a more comfortable environment.

Panthers defense shuts down Flyers in 48-44 win

 

Senior Chance Armstrong powers over East St. Louis defenders to take it to the hoop.  (O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Nick Miller)

Senior Chance Armstrong powers over East St. Louis defenders to take it to the hoop. (O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Nick Miller)

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.

Sophomore Jalen Hodge attempts to get around the Flyers. (O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Nick Miller)

Sophomore Jalen Hodge attempts to get around the Flyers. (O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Nick Miller)

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.

Panthers open up O’Fallon Shootout with win over Peoria-Richwoods

Martin Enriquez looks for an open teammateThe boys of the Panther basketball team kicked off the Bank of O’Fallon Shootout on Saturday with a convincing 44-33 win over the Peoria-Richwoods Knights.

O’Fallon took the lead early in the first quarter against the Knights and held on to it through all four quarters of play.  The Panthers had one of their finest defensive efforts all season against Richwoods, containing the Knights to just ten points in the first half.

Senior Chance Armstrong had another impressive game for the Panthers and earned the MVP of the game award. Armstrong led the Panthers with 12 points, two assists, and seven rebounds.

The Panther victory was the second game of back to back nights for O’Fallon. On Friday night coach Gibson and the Panthers hosted the Belleville West Maroons in their second meeting of the season.

Unable to keep their four game winning streak alive, O’Fallon was ousted by the Maroons in a 59-45 finish. The two teams were neck and neck during the first half and were nearly all tied up 29-28 after two quarters.

O’Fallon struggled to score in the final few minutes of the third quarter and allowed a pair of missed shots and a handful of turnovers to create all the difference.  Belleville West capitalized and increased their lead to seven in the third and would remain in the lead for the remainder of the game.

Junior Ryan Fulton, sophomore Jalen Hodge, and Armstrong each put up 11 points against West and lead the team in scoring. 

Boy shoots during the Chic-Fil A Halftime Event

Boy shoots during the Chic-Fil A Halftime Event

Despite their loss on Friday night, Coach Gibson was happy to turn around and play again early on Saturday morning.

“When you lose you are ready to play again right away and get the bad taste of the loss out of your mouth,” said Gibson. “Instead of having to wait around a week we got to play again right away. The guys responded and played pretty well. It was great to get a win at the Shootout and kick things off for the event.”

This week the Panthers will utilize some down time to prepare for a busy end of the season schedule. On Friday the team travels to Belleville East to compete in their lone game of the week. Earlier in the season O’Fallon was defeated by East 54-37.

“We’re down to our last five regular season games here and it’s kind of our last break with several practices before a game,” said Gibson. “Hopefully we can fit some more stuff in that we want to work on and prepare for a really good East team at their place.”

Boys Bowling takes home third place trophy at state finals

Panthers proudly present their third place trophy. (Submitted Photo)

Panthers proudly present their third place trophy. (Submitted Photo)

The boys of the OTHS Panther bowling team capped off their season this weekend with a third place finish at the IHSA State Tournament.

O’Fallon was three pins outside of the top three after the first day of play on Friday. On Saturday the team ramped up their play but, were unable to find an explosive individual effort to push them passed third place.

Despite not taking the title, the team ended their incredible season with hardware, and head coach Mike Imes is proud of his team.

“I think this was one of the most solid teams we have ever had at O’Fallon,” said Imes. “We seemed to have done better and above at every tournament but couldn’t find it last weekend. I think the team is happy to have left with hardware bowling against those kind of teams.”

O’Fallon has participated in the State Tournament in the last seven consecutive seasons, and 2016 marks their second third place finish in the last four years. The team improved this year over last year’s fourth place finish.

Junior Andrew Orf finished with a third place individual medal, and was the highest placing Panther with a pin count of 2,863 over the span of 12 games. Orf had an average of 238.6 and was only 36 pins behind the first place medalist.

The second highest placement for O’Fallon came from junior Matthew Toohey. Toohey bowled a 2,756 in 12 games and finished the competition in 11th place.

OTHS finished 121 pins behind the second place Rockton Hononegah School and combined for a total pin count of 13,240.  The Panthers had a team average of 220.7 in 60 games.

Linconshire Stevenson won the tournament with a score of 13,361. Rockton finished in second with 13,321, O’Fallon in third with 13,240. Cahokia High School finished in seventh place with a score of 12,825, and SWC competitors Collinsville finished in 11th place with 12,579 pins.

Although the team would have liked to end their season with a state title, they have plenty to be proud of from the 2015-16 season. The team went undefeated in conference play and won the regional title. Next season the team is set to return with another season of fire-power and success.