BY COLTEN STEELE WEEKLY REPORTER
The lady Panthers finished their tournament on a high-note as the host in their annual tournament, the O’Fallon tip-off Classic this past weekend.
In the opening round, the Panthers fell to Chatham Glenwood in a close matchup, 49-40. Marta Durk scored 18 points in the game, going 5-7 from the charity strike. Jayla Stubblefield had five rebounds in the game, four of them coming on defense.
“Chatham is a very good team, but we came out almost too fired up to play,” Head Coach Ryan Massey said.
The Panthers had 17 turnovers and 14 fouls in the first half, but Coach Massey said, “To have that many turnovers and fouls and lose by under ten points was actually a positive.”
The Panthers would then have to fight their way from the Consolation bracket. This is when the Blue and Gold would begin their hot streak.
O’Fallon would go on to beat McCluer North 55-44. Divine Lane had a team-high 13 points in the victory. At the half, it was O’Fallon who had a huge lead 24-7, but the second half was the total opposite. McCluer North would post 37 points in the second half to O’Fallon’s 31. The second half was a foul-fest as O’Fallon was already in the bonus in the third quarter.
“There was very little flow to the second half of the game, and the ball was always at the foul line. Fortunately, we had a good lead at the half, but it was a very different game to coach in,” Coach Massey said.
The Lady Panthers stayed hot and won in a closely contested matchup against Hazelwood Central 56-48. At the end of the first quarter it was O’Fallon who held the lead at just 21-20. The game was back-and-forth for most of the contest, but the stingy defense of O’Fallon held Hazelwood to just six points in the final quarter. Marta Durk (19) and Divine Lane (10) were each in double figures in scoring. Coach Massey commented on Durk’s performance, “She continues to lead on the floor and give us a tremendous effort.”
Coach Massey believed this was the most complete game the Panthers played during the entire tournament, saying, “Hazelwood Central is always one of the top teams in the St. Louis area, and I am very pleased with this win.
The Blue and Gold were up by eleven in the fourth quarter, but it was Hazelwood who made the first run of the quarter scoring nine points and holding the Panthers to zero. Coach Massey said he had to call a timeout to stop the momentum, and something sparked the ladies’ as they went
on their own 9-0 run to hold off Hazelwood, and win.
As the Panthers stayed course throughout the tournament, they didn’t plan on leaving anything on the court as they stomped Breese Central in their final game of the tournament, 51-29. It seemed at the start of the game that this would be a competitive matchup, but the Panthers thought otherwise. The Panthers would score 26 points in the second quarter to make it 34-13 at the half. The O’Fallon defense stepped up again as they held Breese Central to under 10 points in each quarter. Marta Durk, Jayla Stubblefield, and Divine Lane each scored in double figures to help the Panthers get their final win of the tournament.
“We have had some spurts where we play very well defensively. We got much better from the first game of the tournament. Offensively, this was the first time we played against a zone. The first quarter we were unsure, but we settled in, and scored 26 in the second quarter. It was good for us to see some zone this early in the season,” Coach Massey said.
Marta Durk had a highlight performance in the tournament as she was in the top five in scoring 59 points in the tournament. Divine Lane leads O’Fallon in rebounds on the season with 11, and Caitlin Kayser is second on the team in rebounds with ten.
The Lady Panthers are currently 3-1 on the season and fourth in the Southwestern Conference.
Looking forward to their matchup tonight against Belleville East, Coach Massey said, “This game will be a very fast-paced game and should be fun to watch. They are well-coached and do a tremendous job.”