Tennis coach Erin Thoman wins IHSTA 2015 Boys’ Tennis Coach of the Year

thomancotyLast Friday, boys and girls tennis head coach Erin Thoman was presented with the Illinois High School Tennis Coaches Association Boys’ Tennis Coach of the Year Award for 2015.
Thoman has been a coach for OTHS tennis since the fall of 2009. She started her coaching career for O’Fallon as the JV boys’ head coach and in the spring of 2013 took over as the head boys’ coach. In the fall of 2011 she became the girls head coach.
Since becoming head coach, Thoman has lead the boys’ team to a sectional title three years in a row and has advanced all six players to the IHSA State Tournament in the last three years.
In 2015 the boys’ team went 16-5 and placed first at the O’Fallon Sectional. Thoman’s team also won two other tournaments throughout the 2015 season and placed 20th at the State Tournament.
OTHS Athletic Director Todd Moeller was in agreement with Thoman’s recognition.
“In her role as the head coach, Erin Thoman prepares her athletes to compete, but, more importantly she develops in them positive character attributes that will follow them for the rest of their lives”, said Moeller.
For Thoman, coaching is a rewarding challenge.
“My favorite part about coaching is helping the players to improve and achieve their goals,” said Thoman. “I also enjoy sharing my passion for the game with the players.”
Tennis has been a long time love and commitment for Thoman, who started playing at the age of eight and continued to do so in high school for O’Fallon, and in college at McKendree University.
While not on the court, Thoman is in her 7th year teaching Honors and Advanced Geometry at O’Fallon High.
Although her own efforts as a coach earned her the award, Thoman is thankful to many people for helping her get to this point.
“I would not have received this honor without the dedicated players, my great assistant coaches, the support of OTHS, and the families in the program,” said Thoman. “I had a great mentor in the late, Ray Cordon.”

McLeod and Sudduth are carving the ice for Panthers

Feb 3 2016 AOTWThe O’Fallon Panthers have had a successful season on the ice so far in 2015-16 behind the dominating play of senior Matt McLeod and sophomore Graham Sudduth.
Both McLeod and Sudduth have played instrumental roles in the Panthers’ second place finish during the regular season and show no signs of slowing down in the upcoming playoffs.
For a sophomore, Graham Sudduth has quickly found his place on the ice for O’Fallon. After gaining quality varsity experience as a freshman, Sudduth has had an explosive shot during his second year. Sudduth lead the team in scoring with 25 goals in 19 games. He contributed with nine assists, and had 34 points in 19 games during the regular season.
At the start of the season Sudduth played a forward role for the Panthers but transitioned to defense down the stretch.
“Graham is a great hockey player and has the ability to play both offense and defense. We had some injuries and roster shifts towards the middle of the season and Graham stepped up and filled a defensive spot well for us,” said Roy.
Senior Matt McLeod has had a balanced effort all season on the right wing for O’Fallon. At the end of the regular season McLeod has 15 goals and 12 assists for 27 points in 21 games. His over a point per game average is not surprising for the senior who has dressed varsity since his freshman season.
“Matt has been very consistent and balanced for us all season long. He is a constant scorer and has found some really good chemistry on his line with Rieck and Drolet,” said Roy.
McLeod was recently named to the MVCHA All Star team roster and will play in the game this Tuesday. Although he isn’t an overly vocal player for the Panthers, McLeod’s effort on the ice has not gone unnoticed.
“Matt has done a very nice job of doing his work on the ice and the production he puts in speaks for itself,” said Roy. “He proves that you don’t have to have a letter on your jersey to be a leader.”

Late game heroics lead Panthers over Kahoks

Panthers defend against the KahoksThe O’Fallon High Panther boys’ basketball team captured their fourth win in a row in a nail biting finish against Collinsville on Friday.

With just a minute and a half left on the clock the Kahoks sunk a two pointer to tie up the score at 33 points apiece. From there on the Panthers remained in possession of the ball until the final seconds of play. Junior guard Deion Norfleet held the ball on the perimeter, uncontested, for nearly an entire minute. Norfleet powered his way to the basket in the final seconds and forced a rebound, giving way for senior Chance Armstrong to tip it in and win the game at the buzzer.

It was a low scoring game for both the Panthers and the Kahoks who combined for only 68 points in the 35-33 win for O’Fallon. Although OTHS struggled to score in the game, their win over Collinsville marked their fourth win in a row and it continued a positive upswing after a rough first half of the season.

“I don’t think either team played as well as they could but a win is a win and we will take it,” said head coach Rick Gibson. “The guys did a decent job and the kids played and extended hard and that’s what kept us in the lead.”

The pressure of the final play is a scenario coach Gibson and his Panther team are familiar with and practice regularly.

“We practice it almost daily,” said Gibson. “Getting a last ditch shot is something our kids feel familiar with because we have run it so much. Although we normally don’t practice it when a team sits back and doesn’t pressure us, so it was a little bit different.”

Armstrong lead the Panthers with 11 points, one steal, and two assists against the Kahoks. Sophomore Tabari Dunlap and Norfleet both contributed to the Panther win with six points each. Both Dunlap and Norfleet also had a pair of steals and a single assist. O’Fallon was out-rebounded by Collinsville 32-26.

The win puts O’Fallon at 6-13 on the season and 2-6 in the Southwestern Conference.

This week the Panthers will host Belleville West on Friday night and will look for revenge after a tough overtime loss in Belleville in early January. On Saturday OTHS will kick off the first game of the highly anticipated Bank of O’Fallon Shootout event against Peoria Richwoods at 10:30am.

“These are two big games for us and after a four game winning streak we are feeling a lot better than we were four games ago. We let one get away last time we played West so we are excited to play them at home and it will be nice to play someone outside of our conference on Saturday,” said Gibson.

The Lady Panthers had a successful run last week, picking up wins against Alton, Collinsville, and Normal Community West.

The trio of wins were big for O’Fallon, who went into last week on a two game losing streak. Senior Becca Althoff had a monstrous night with 16 points, three assists, and a steal in a 49-32 win over Alton. Junior Marta Durk supported the Panthers offense with 14 points of her own.

Against Collinsville Durk put up another night of big scoring with 16 points and three steals in O’Fallons 50-45 win.

Coach Ryan Massey and the Lady Panthers improved their overall record to 15-8 and 8-3 in conference play.

Bank of O’Fallon Shootout takes place Saturday

ofallon basketballThis Saturday the Panther Dome seats will be filled for highly anticipated Bank of O’Fallon Shootout basketball event.
The Shootout first took place last year and was highlighted by a double-overtime finish between Althoff and Westchester St. Joseph who would go on to face off against each other in the Class 3A state championship.
This year’s Shootout will be split into two action packed sessions. Teams for this year include Althoff, CBC, Centralia, Columbia, DeKalb, Hazelwood Central, Hinsdale South, Kenwood Academy, Morgan Park, Nashville, OTHS, Peoria Richwoods, St. Joseph-Ogden, and St. Joseph Winchester.
Coach Gibson and his team are excited to host the event again and look to keep their winning streak extended into the Shootout.
“It’s a great event that shows a lot of promise again this year. It helps showcase the great gym we have, the school, and the city of O’Fallon. We have teams from all over the area and it will be a great day of basketball,” said Gibson.

The full schedule of games for Saturday are listed below:

10:30 O’Fallon vs. Peoria Richwoods
12:00 Nashville vs. St Joseph Ogden
1:30 Centralia vs. Darien Hinsdale South
4:15 Columbia vs. DeKalb
5:45 CBC vs. Westchester St. Joseph
7:15 Hazelwood Central vs. Chicago Morgan Park
8:45 Althoff vs. Chicago Kenwood

Panther Hockey finishes second in standings

Panthers Hockey logo The playoff schedule for the O’Fallon High Panther ice hockey team was released early this week.

O’Fallon will face off against the winner of a best of three series between Columbia High School and the combined Freeburg/Waterloo High Schools team.

The Panthers finished the regular season in second place with 33 points and ended the season on a 4-0 shutout win over Belleville. O’Fallon went 16-4-1 in 2015-2016 and was nine points behind the Edwardsville Tigers in the standings.

Columbia, who the Panthers are likely to face in their first round of post-season play, finished just two points behind O’Fallon with a 15-5-1 record. During the season, O’Fallon and Columbia faced off three times and went 1-1-1 in their three meetings. Most recently OTHS got the better of Columbia in a 3-1 win in mid-January.

“We ended the season the right way,” said head coach Patrick Roy. “Our first round bye will give us a chance to heal up some injuries and get ready.”

O’Fallon’s first round of playoff hockey will start on Thursday, February 11th at 8pm at the Granite City Ice Arena. Each round of play will be in a best of three format. The second game for O’Fallon will take place on Tuesday, February 16th at 8:15pm and, if needed, game three will be held on Thursday Feb. 18th at 8pm. All three of the games will be played in Granite City.

Senior goaltender Boomer Johnson is expected to be starting in net for the Panthers in the post-season.

On Monday night several Panthers competed in the MVCHA 2016-16 All Star Game.  Representing O’Fallon in the game were seniors Preston Townsend, Boomer Johnson, Trevor Rieck, Cameron Forgette and Matt Mcleod. Also playing were juniors Hayden Ourada and Cooper Barnhill, as well as sophomore Logan Drolet. The eight Panthers played for the South Division All Star Team and were coached by head O’Fallon coach Patrick Roy, and assistant coaches Kevin Fearger from Columbia, and Pat Culiberk from Triad.

The first game between Columbia and Freeburg will take place this Thursday.

Athlete of the Week – Alex Fulton

Alex Fulton

Alex Fulton

It has not taken long for freshman wrestler Alex Fulton to find his place on the mats.

Weighing in at 113lb, Fulton, the son of Michelle Seibel and Keith Fulton, has quickly acclimated to the varsity level of competition so far in his first year as a member of the Panther wrestling team.

In December Fulton, who is also a member of the Bass Fishing Club, made a name for himself as he battled his way through tough competition at the Mascoutah Invitational Tournament. Early in the tournament Fulton took a beating but, came back to defeat the same wrestler from Collinsville he had lost to earlier in the tournament in the third place match. Fulton made a gutsy comeback in his third place finish at Mascoutah and his efforts on the mat are not surprising to his coaches.

According to head coach Glen Exton, Fulton is someone they have been aware of for some time now.

“You never know how a freshman is going to respond to varsity competition,” said Exton. “Alex had a lot good success at the younger level and we have had our eye on him for quite a few years, knowing he would be with us soon. It worked out well that he fit in at 113lb, you never know at that age when they go through growing spurts.”

One of Fulton’s strong points has been his ability to soundly use his fundamentals and mental game on the mat.

“He’s a really good technician, especially for a freshman,” said Exton. “He’s a very hard worker and has a lot of guts and determination in his matches.”

Fulton says that so far his season has gone as well as he could have hoped and most especially his match against Edwardsville where he was the only Panther to take home a win at the varsity level. He also is thankful for his teammates who have helped him along the way.

“I’ve looked up to Jack and the rest of the seniors to really help me catch up,” said Fulton. “My goal this year is to get to 30 wins so I can be on pace to break 100 by the end of high school.”

With 10 years of wrestling experience under his belt, both Fulton and coach Exton expect to him continue to grow as a wrestler over the course of the next three seasons.

“We expect him to keep getting better each year and there aren’t that many things we need to change. For the most part he came to us ready and has adapted very quickly. He seems like a veteran in our room already,” said Exton.

O’Fallon wrestlers continue to impress on the mat

Jalen Jones graples with an Alton Redbird during their match at OTHS last week. (O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Nick Miller)

Jalen Jones graples with an Alton Redbird during their match at OTHS last week. (O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Nick Miller)

The Panther wrestling team put no halt to their successful season last week with a seventh place finish in the Geneseo Invitational and a conference win over the talented Alton Redbirds.

Although head coach Glen Exton and the Panthers believe they could have done better, the team trenched through a tournament of stacked competition and totaled for 122 points at Geneseo. Senior Mason Hewitt performed the best for O’Fallon with a first place finish in the 182-pound class. Hewitt won the title match against Steven Djurina from Franklin high school in a 13-5 decision.Before winning the title match, Hewitt defeated wrestlers from Stagg High School, Mineral Point High School, and Eldridge High School. The first place performance from Hewitt earned the Panthers 28 points.

Also turning in notable performances for the Panthers were Alex Fulton and Jack Bond. Fulton took third place in the 113-pound class and Bond also took third place in the 152-pound class. Bond defeated Lucas Sanchez from Mineral Point high school 20-11, while Fulton won 19-11 over Caden Carey, also from Mineral Point.

While several Panthers performed well at the invitational, Exton believes his team could have easily placed in the top three spots.

“There were a couple spots where we did not wrestle up to par and it made the difference between seventh place and the top three. If everyone had performed normally we would have easily placed in one of the top places,” said Exton.

Later in the week the Panthers took to their home mats against a very solid Alton Redbirds team. The Panthers defeated Alton by a score of 44-19 and improved their record to an impressive 17-1.

“They’re a pretty good team,” said Exton. “We were kind of status quo against them so it was a pretty good sign that we were able to beat them as easily as we did.”

Coach Exton and the Panther wrestlers have had an explosive season so far, but they do not plan on letting up on the mats anytime soon.

“It’s been a really rewarding year so far and it’s without question the most solid and balanced team we have had here in the 10 years I’ve coached,” said Exton. “Across all the weight classes we have a solid kid and there is almost no holes in our roster. I think we’re tougher in duals than tournaments but we are still working on it. We got a lot of kids back from last year and we’ll have quite a few coming back for next year as well.”

Jalen Hodge and Tabari Dunlap – Athletes of the Week

Jan 20 2016 AOTW  In what has been a season with struggles, the sophomore duo of Jalen Hodge and Tabari Dunlap have gotten the chance to develop.

Getting a chance at valuable varsity court exposure has allowed Hodge and Dunlap to begin finding their game.

“So far they have responded well to the playing time,” said head coach Rick Gibson. “They’ve had their ups and downs but they are getting more consistent and they are starting to understand what is expected of them. Being a sophomore on varsity is hard and these games are key experience for them.”

Through the midway point of the season the sophomores have done their part to help contribute to the Panthers’ offense.

Dunla is the team’s second leading scorer this season with 120 points in 17 games. Tabari has averaged seven points a game, with a 40% field goal percentage and is shooting 71.4% from the free-throw line.  At 5-foot-9 Dunlap is one of the shortest members of his team but, has 35 rebounds and 10 steals this season.

Hodge, a 6-foot guard for the Panthers, has produced 87 points in 16 games played and has a 46.3% field goal percentage. The sophomore is shooting 60.9% from the free-throw line. On defense, Hodge is the third leading Panther with 39 rebounds this season and is the second leading Panther with 25 assists.

As they head into their upperclassmen years of play, Gibson is hopeful that the duo can continue to contribute big for the Panthers.

“You can’t simulate the experience of a game in practice and luckily they are getting a chance every night to get good game experience young,” said Gibson. “They’re having some good moments, some tough moments, and all of that is a learning experience. To learn from the good things they are doing and to keep doing them while learning from the tough moments and figuring out how to overcome them.”

Boys Bowling take first place at regional tournament

Regional Championship- GOTW PIC- SUBMITTED After going undefeated in conference play all season long, it did not come as much of a surprise last weekend when the O’Fallon High boys bowling team had no problems mopping up the competition at the regional tournament.

Hoisting the top honor is not a new feeling for the Panthers, who have had one of their most successful seasons in school history during their 2015-2016 campaign.

On Saturday the team was over 400 pins ahead of their closest competition. The Panthers averaged a series score of 1154.3 and knocked down 6,926 pins. Belleville East finished in second place at the tournament and were 423 pins behind O’Fallon.

Head coach Mike Imes was more than pleased with the teams win.

“After a couple games it was pretty close and there were numerous teams hanging in there with us,” said Imes. “Our goal was to get through the regional and winning it was a big plus. The guys bowled phenomenal and for them to keep this pace up all year is unreal.”

Four Panthers bowled their way into the top five individual scorers of the whole tournament. Junior Andrew Orf led the Panthers and the tournament with a 1497 series score. Fellow junior Mathew Toohey finished in third place overall with a 1396, while senior Bradley Solomon ended up in fourth with a 1390.  Junior Josh Bradshaw claimed the fifth place spot with a 1374 series and senior Justin Hess rounded out the Panther scoring with a 1269.

Before claiming the regional title, the boys finished up their conference play with three regular season conference victories over Belleville West, Edwardsville, and Alton.  The three quick wins gave the Panthers momentum that proved beneficial in the regional finals.

“Having three matches versus regular practice helped keep us focused. You can lose on any given day and having those challenges helped the guys going into the regional,” said Imes.

This weekend the team will participate in the sectional tournament at Bel-Air Bowl alongside Belleville East.  With a chance to practice on the lanes at Bel-Air on Thursday, coach Imes and his team are confident going into this weekend.

“I hate to sound cocky but with the scores were bowling this season and in the regional, I’ll be surprised if we don’t do well. There will be a lot of good teams there but the guys are catching lanes they feel comfortable with and like to bowl in,” said Imes.

While the boys won the regional, the girls had an equally successful week on the lanes with three conference wins.

The Lady Panthers started their week off with wins over Belleville West and Edwardsville. O’Fallon’s biggest and most important test of the week came on Thursday against the Alton Redbirds. In their previous meeting this season, Alton got the better of the Panthers on O’Fallon’s home lanes.

In Thursday’s meeting the Panthers held on to a tight lead going into game three and handed the Redbirds just their second loss of the season. The win also put the two teams in a tie for first place in the Southwestern Conference standings.

Senior Madison Kasza had another huge night for the Panthers with a 268 in the second game to help her team clinch the win over Alton.

“We have two tough matches left this season so beating Alton last was huge and it gives us an opportunity to remain tied with them for the rest of the season,” said Coach Spencer. “With three freshman starting varsity, I can’t ask for much more. The girls focus when they need to and always do their best.”

This week the ladies will host Belleville East on Tuesday and will travel to Rockford for a tournament this weekend.

O’Fallon Hockey moves into second place

Panthers Hockey logo  The O’Fallon Panther ice hockey team picked up two big wins last week and moved into second place in the Mississippi Valley Club Hockey Association standings.

O’Fallon High defeated both Freeburg/Waterloo and Columbia in close games on back to back nights.

On Monday senior forward Matthew McLeod got the Panthers on the board in the second period on assists from sophomore Graham Sudduth and junior Aaron Turner. Following up on McLeod’s goal was junior defenseman Zach Winkler on a power play goal in the second from sophomore Logan Drolet.

Senior Trevor Rieck kept the scoring going with a goal at the 12:48 mark of the third period. Winkler and McLeod picked up their second point of the night with assists on Rieck’s goal. Just 46 seconds later McLeod found the back of the net for the second time. Senior captain Cameron Forgette and Logan Drolet assisted on McLeod’s goal.

Boomer Johnson was in net for the Panthers and made 19 saves on 23 shots.

The Panthers defeated Freeburg/Waterloo by a final score of 5-4.

On Tuesday night O’Fallon faced off against Columbia, who are currently in a race for second place with the Panthers.

Sophomore Ryan Boeck had a huge night for OTHS with a pair of goals. Boeck’s first goal came in the first period with assists from Drolet and Rieck. His second goal of the night was at 12:59 in the second period and was unassisted. Sudduth got the Panther’s third goal on an unassisted play with less than two minutes left in the second period.

O’Fallon defeated Columbia by a final score of 3-1. Sophomore goalie Kristin Smith defending the crease for the Panthers against Columbia. Smith made 24 saves on 25 shots.

OTHS’s win over Columbia boosted them three points ahead of Columbia in the standings. The Panthers are 13-3-2 and have won their last nine games. Edwardsville remains in first place with an 18-0 record, and are eight points ahead of the Panthers.

Madison Kasza – Athlete of the Week

AOTW MKMadison Kasza’s dominate control over the lanes during her senior year campaign has not come as much of a surprise.

Kasza, the daughter of Mark and Kathy Duprey, has enjoyed success all year. Most recently Kasza rolled her way to a 672 series in an important conference match against Collinsville. Against the Kahoks Kasza put up game scores of 224, 181, and a game high score of 267. Madison’s dynamite effort helped the Panthers edge out Collinsville 2933-2773.

Heading into her final season of competition with the Panthers, Kasza was unsure of how well her team would perform.

“I’ve been surprised by how well have done so far,” said Kasza. “We lost a lot of talented bowlers from last year but the team has really come together and helped each other perform well. I think we will continue to do well for the remainder of the season.”

While there might be surprise as to how well the Panthers have done in 2015-2016, there should be no surprise at Kasza’s dominance. Kasza has been a four year varsity starter and has bowled for 13 years. The year round bowler doesn’t take any breaks and uses her commitment to improve as her drive.

“The bowling never stops but I just keep pushing myself to do better no matter what. My motivation to get better comes naturally to me and it’s always my goal to improve,” said Kasza.

Head girls’ varsity coach Garrett Spencer says that Kasza’s performance against Collinsville was a routine outing.

“Madison is without a doubt the team’s anchor and she has the highest averages on the team,” said Spencer. “She always steps up when we need her the most and her drive to compete spreads to her teammates.”

Moving forward Kasza has her sights set high for the remainder of the team’s season and is doing what she can to help her team both on the lanes and off.

“As a team we do our best to keep each other going and not let any bad shots stop up from doing our best. We have formed a really good support system and I try my best to be a part of that support.”

Next fall Kasza will compete as a member of the McKendree University bowling team and plans to major in sociology with a double minor in criminal justice, and psychology.

Lady Panthers pick up important conference wins

Durk looks for an open teammateThe second half of the season got underway quickly for the O’Fallon High Panthers basketball teams last week.

Most recently the Lady Panthers used a balanced offensive effort to take down the Granite City Warriors 46-31 on Monday night. Both teams struggled to find their offense early in the first quarter, combining for only seven points in the opening five minutes of play. Junior Emily Hopkins drilled a 3-pointer to give the Panthers a 7-3 lead and break open the scoring. The Panther defense went to work for the remainder of the half and held the Warriors to just nine points after the first two quarters.

Granite City started to find their stride in the second half but O’Fallon was able to hold on for a 46-31 win. After adding eight points in the third quarter, Granite City began to find some holes in the Panther defense and found themselves 14 points in the final quarter.

Despite the conference win, Coach Massey felt there were too many mistakes in Monday night’s game.

“We are happy to get an important conference win, but we definitely could have been better,” said Massey. “Defensively we weren’t pretty in the second half and we gave up far too many turnovers on offense. I think we had a lack of focus and we will need to work on it.”

Last week the Lady Panthers picked up a huge conference win over the talented Belleville West team but, lost later in the week to Edwardsville.

Senior Becca Althoff and junior Marta Durk took charge of the O’Fallon offense and combined for 31 points against West.  Durk also had four assists on the night and junior Celeste Akoro contributed with four assists, four blocks, and four points.

“The girls played really well for about twenty-three minutes against West,” said Massey. “Overall it was a good game and we made enough points down the stretch to close it out. It was a big win for us.”

The Lady Panthers were not able to mirror their performance against West later in the week when they took on Edwardsville. After giving up 17 unanswered points against the Tigers, O’Fallon slowly crawled their way back into the game. O’Fallon outscored Edwardsville in the second and fourth quarters but were unable to close the 13 point gap. Durk had a big night with 13 points against the Tigers in the 59-41 loss.

“We came out too anxious and forced way too many of our offensive opportunities. It was great to see how well we played later in the game against a formidable team like Edwardsville,” said Massey.

This week the team will travel to take on East St. Louis on Thursday, and on Saturday will compete in a week long tournament at Highland High School. The Highland Optimist Varsity Tournament will be a stacked competition.  Tip off for the Panthers’ first game is at 11:30 am Saturday against Mater Dei high school.

The boys’ team also had a busy week last week with two tough games against Belleville West and Edwardsville. The team was unable to find a win in either competition but battled hard in both games.

Senior Chance Armstrong topped the Panther offense with 12 points against West and 9 points against Edwardsville.

The boys’ record now sits at 2-11 and this weekend they will compete in a tournament in Kirkwood starting on Friday.

O’Fallon swimmers continue to improve

15-16 Boys SwimmingMembers of the OTHS swimming team got much needed rest with just one competition over the holiday break. The boys traveled to Edwardsville where they competed in a triangular meet against Edwardsville and Springfield High.

O’Fallon finished in third place in the tri however, the young team has continued to improve on their times throughout the season.

“We closed the cap on the point differential between us and Edwardsville from the first time we competed against them,” said head coach Kid Eddy. “We were also missing a few of our normal point scorers so it was encouraging to see that even without them we were able to close that gap.”

Coach Eddy was forced to move some of her swimmers around into competitions they normally don’t swim in order to compensate for the missing roster spots.

Max Gibbs was the lone Panther to earn a first place finish, winning the 100 free competition. Both Brian Hobbs and Yanni Guskey picked up individual medals in the triangular. The medley relay team of Gibbs, Guskey, Adriel Moran, and Patrick Murhphy, as well as the 400 free relay of Moran, Kyle Hobbs, Jake Howey, and Gibbs both picked up points for the Panthers.

Also helping out the Panthers was junior Adam Mueller in the diving competition. The Panthers have been without a diver all season, and after their last loss to Edwardsville, Mueller took it upon himself to step up and face the challenge. Despite having no meet experience and limited practice experience in diving, Mueller managed to get fifth place at the triangular.

“After last time at Edwardsville, Adam talked to me and said ‘Coach I know I can do this, let me do it’,” said Eddy. “So I said ok, put my faith in him, and he did it.”

This weekend the Panthers will take to the water in Champaign to compete in a 15 team invitational.

“We’re looking to just continue improving on our individual times. There are going to be several of our boys swimming in different events they aren’t used to in order to continue preparing for the sectional meet at the end of the year. I’m excited to see who will step up and perform well with these new roles,” said Eddy.

Panthers boys bowling continues to control the lanes late in the season

15-15 Boys BowlingWith a flawless 8-0 conference record before the holiday break, the boys of the OTHS bowling team are not looking to slow down their performance heading into 2016.

Over the break the team competed in three high caliber tournaments including the Rockford Boylan Invitational, the North vs. South Holiday Classic in Rockford, and they capped the holiday competition by hosting the Panther Team Challenge tournament at St. Clair Bowl.

O’Fallon kicked their tournament stretch off with second place finish in the Boylan Invitational. The team remained near the top pack of the competition throughout the day but were edged out by Harlem in the step ladder finals. Before losing to Harlem, the boys defeated Belleville East, Oregon, and their toughest conference competitors, Collinsville. The Panthers finished only 37 pins behind Harlem in the finals.

“It was a good showing by the boys,” said head coach Mike Imes. “No super high games, just consistent bowling and spare-shooting.”

On the following day, the team competed in the North vs South Holiday Classic held at B&B Park Bowl in Rockford, Illinois. O’Fallon continued their momentum from the day before and led by juniors Josh Bradshaw and Andrew Orf, finished the day on the top of the standings. OTHS finished ahead of second place Auburn 6364-5935.

Bradshaw bowled a 300 and had a tournament high series of 1,390, while Orf supported with a 1,380 series. Also scoring well for the Panthers were Bradley Solomon with a 1299 series and Justin Hess with a 1262 series. Bradshaw (1), Orf (2), Solomon (4), and Hess (6) all finished within the top six individual scores of the day.

The Panthers winning performance also helped the South team defeat the North 22887-22216.

After their road trip, the Panthers returned to St. Clair Bowl to host the Panther Team Challenge last weekend. Forty-four teams competed in the challenge, including many of the state’s toughest competitors.

The boys got off to a great start and earned a second place seed after the opening three preliminary games on Saturday morning.  After four rounds of step ladder play, the team finished the large tournament in third place. O’Fallon was defeated by Harlem for the second time over the holiday stretch. Harlem edged out the Panthers by a close score of 403-374 in the semifinal round of the bracket finals.  The Panthers defeated Columbia 396-363 in the first round of step-ladder play.

“It was an unlucky draw to get Harlem in the step ladder but you have to beat everybody,” said Imes. “Harlem and Hononegah are both two teams that anybody going to state will have to deal with. We’ve been battling and hanging with them so we aren’t too discouraged with where we have been finishing. The guys know what they have to do to get through the rest of the season.”

On Thursday the Panthers will face off against the Collinsville Kahoks. So far this season O’Fallon is only team to defeat Collinsville in conference play and an OTHS win over the Kahoks will give the Panthers a very solid chance to finish on top of the SWC table.

Panther offense shuts out Granite City

IMG_5060[1]The Panther Ice hockey team did not let the emotion or distraction of senior night get in their way last weekend when they faced off against Granite City.

Before the game started the seniors were honored on the ice with their parents. O’Fallon’s seniors include Preston Townsend, Boomer Johnson, Zach Storck, Trevor Rieck, Jack Belobrajdic, Cameron Forgette, Matt Terveer, Matthew McLeod, and Jimmy Lyles.

O’Fallon went on a spree of offense early in the game to put Granite City away quickly in an 11-0 bashing.

With 9:05 to play in the first period, senior Zach Storck got the Panthers on the board first with the game winning goal and his first varsity goal of the season. Over the course of the remaining two periods, O’Fallon got goals from Aaron Turner (2), Hayden Ourada (2), Matt McLeod (2), Jimmy Lyles, Ethan Ourada, Zach Winkler, and Captain Cameron Forgette.

Picking up assists in the game were Cooper Barnhill (3), Joey Kurrasch (2), Garrett Hagarty (2), Parker Towensend (2), Preston Townsend, Ethan Ourada, Matt Terveer, Ryan Boeck, Jimmy Lyles, and Chris Duncan.

In his second start since returning from injury, senior Boomer Johnson, got the win with a shutout. Johnson stopped all eleven of Granite City’s shots on the night.

“The seniors were pumped up to play on senior night,” said head coach Patrick Roy. “It was a one-sided game and the guys had some extra charge in their step.”

The night started off with the team’s seniors singing the National Anthem together, something Coach Roy says they have wanted to do for a while.

“It showed a lot of character for them to sing together, they may have missed a few of the high notes, but it didn’t sound too bad,” said Roy.

On Monday night the team faced off against Freeburg/Waterloo for the second time this season. The Panthers took the lead in the second period on a goal by Trevor Rieck. Reick’s goal was set up on a nice pass from sophomore Logan Drolet with 56 seconds left in the period.

Freeburg/Waterloo answered back in the third period to tie the game 1-1. Drolet picked up his second point and the game winning goal in the third period on a crafty back hand deflection goal. Graham Sudduth got the assist on the game winner, and Hayden Ourada extended the Panthers lead with an empty net goal towards the end of the third period.

Sophomore goaltender Kristin Smith got the start in net for the Panthers, and only let in one goal on 27 shots. The Panthers outshot Freeburg/Waterloo 37-27.

The Panther victory was their eleventh of the season and improved their record to 11-3-2. They now have 24 points on the season and continue to battle with Columbia and Edwardsville in the top three spots of the MVCHA league.

With five games remaining this season, Roy liked the atmosphere of Monday night’s game.

“It felt like a playoff game against Freeburg/Waterloo and that’s how the next five games are going to be. It’s going to set a nice tone for all the teams involved with the playoffs and it shows us what to expect from post-season,” said Roy.