The 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.