Lady Panthers take third in Highland

BY ALEX GRUBERMAN & NATHAN POIGNEE
WEEKLY REPORTERS

HIGHLAND – Last weekend the Lady Panthers Basketball team headed to Highland to take part in the 31st annual Scott Credit Union Highland Tournament after the tournament was previously delayed due to icy conditions. Sixteen teams took part in this tournament, including Belleville West, Highland, and Althoff. The tournament would conclude with the Lady Panthers securing a third place finish.

The Lady Panthers opened the tournament against Salem, who they would breeze on by, defeating them 68-32 to advance to the next round. In the quarterfinal match the Lady Panthers took on Mater Dei. The Lady Panthers went into halftime with a 43-23 lead, but Mater Dei rallied multiple times throughout the second half. In the end, senior Marta Durk scored 28 points and made key free throws in the final seconds of the game to give the Panthers a narrow 81-75 victory and allow them to move on to the semifinal match.

“She came up big for us today. She has been doing this all season long,” said Coach Ryan Massey about Durk.

With the victory over Mater Dei, the Lady Panthers then faced Highland in the semifinals, with the winner advancing to the title game and the loser going on to play in the third place game. In a back and forth battle in the first half, Highland used a 10-0 midway in the first half to gain some momentum. The Bulldogs stole that momentum and ran with it in the second half, holding the Panthers scoreless for over five minutes in the fourth quarter. The Bulldogs defeated the Lady Panthers 59-44 to advance to the finals, their first title appearance since 2011. The Highland Bulldogs went on to best Belleville West in the championship match.

After the game was over Highland’s Coach Mike Arbuthnot said, “It was a big win for us because O’Fallon is very good and athletic.”

The Panthers, who saw their five-game winning streak snapped, was ready to take on Teutopolis in the third place game. The Panthers walked all over the Wooden Shoes as they defeated Teutopolis 70-60. Senior Marta Durk would post a season high 30 of the 70 points for the Lady Panthers.

Junior Jayla Stubblefield made an impact for O’Fallon throughout the tournament with 19 points against Mater Dei and senior Divine Lane continued her strong season with 40 overall points at Highland.

The Lady Panthers look to get back on a winning streak when they take on Collinsville at the Dome on January 26th at 6 p.m.