COLLINSVILLE — The long painful, injury-riddled season of the Collinsville Kahoks got a lot brighter on Monday at Vergil Fletcher Gymnasium.
Sophomore guard Aubreeney Brady sliced and diced her way through the O'Fallon defense for 25 points while Julie Schelter and Katie McCarthy both made two free throws in the final 20 seconds of overtime as Collinsville nipped the Panthers 61-57 in a first round game of the Class 4A Collinsville Regional.
At times playing a lineup which included three freshmen and two sophomores, the Kahoks rallied from a 10-point third quarter deficit and tied the game at 50 when Brady hit a layup with 3.2 seconds remaining in regulation.
Schelter then gave the Kahoks the lead for good 59-57 with under 20 seconds left when she made two free throws.
O'Fallon had two chances to tie the game but Jasmine Bonds layup rolled in and out and Ally Warren's offensive putback fell off the rim in the final fIve seconds.
McCarthy then iced the game with two free throws wit two seconds left as Collinsville moved into a semifinal matchup with Belleville West.
The win was sweet for coach Lori Billy whose team lost its top two scorers -- Lexie Thompson and Karla Halde -- to knee injuries.
But on this night, Billy's young group grew up considerably.
"I'm going to enjoy this one for about an hour then I'll start worrying about (Belleville) West,'' Billy said. "This is a very rewarding win. We told the kids that this was their time to step up and they did tonight. I'm very proud of them.
With the win, Collinsville (12-14) moves into a semifinal contest at 6 p.m. on Tuesday against top-seed Belleville West.
Second-seeded Belleville East will play third-seed Granite City at 8 p.m. with the two winners meeting for the regional title at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday.
O'Fallon ends its season at 7-17.
Brady led all scorers with 25 points, while Bonds paced O'Fallon with 21.
O'Fallon, which led 39-29 late in the third quarter and held the lead through much of the final period, proved to be its own worst enemy. The Panthers were just 6-of-19 from the fouls line in the fourth quarter and in overtime.
"Ironically, free throw shooting as been one of the strengths of this team all year. We has some chances. In the final sequence (Jasmine) Bond missed a shot and Ally Warren also missed shots that they normally convert,'' O'Fallon coach Ryan Massey said. "I know people are going to say the free throw shooting was the difference in the game but there were a lot other things which also happened during this game.''
What happened was that Brady simply refused to let Collinsville lose. The 5-foot-5 guard was the Kahoks offense for most of the second half as she scored 17 of Collinsville's first 19 points.
"During one of the breaks I told her (Brady) that she's been our (offensive) leader since the injuries and that it was time for her to take over the game. She took it to heart because that's exactly what she did.
"But we had several kids step up. Young kids who had never been in this type of big game before. Like I said, we kept battling when we were down and the kids didn't quit. I'm very proud of this group.''