BELLEVILLE — With three of its guards sidelined by injuries, Belleville West needed some help on the perimeter Friday.
Senior Nick Van Osdale turned in one of his typical performances at the point, leading all scorers with 31 points in the Maroons' 72-56 win over O'Fallon in a Southwestern Conference game.
But freshman Tarkus Ferguson provided top-notch support off the bench by scoring 15 points and hitting four 3-pointers on five attempts in just his second varsity game.
"Right now, we've got some type of curse that's hitting our team," Maroons coach Joe Muniz said, referring to injured players D.J. Owens (ankle), Isaiah Lewis (ankle) and Sherand Boyd (knee). "But tonight, we had different people step up.
"Tarkus had a nice game. ... The one thing the young man can do is score. That's been proven on the freshman level; it's been proven on the JV level. He's been playing great in practice and he came out and did what he's been doing in practice."
The 6-foot-1 Ferguson, who didn't score in his first game last Saturday in a victory at Althoff, had five points and one 3-pointer in the first quarter when the Maroons (16-8 overall, 7-5 SWC) went ahead for good.
Ferguson was scoreless in the second quarter, but had seven points and two 3-pointers in the third quarter and another 3 in the fourth quarter that gave West a 15-point lead.
"The one thing about him is he doesn't lack confidence," Muniz said. "It's not in a cocky way. He doesn't get flustered; he doesn't get nervous. Sometimes I wonder if he's got a pulse. He was wide-open and he knocked down a lot of shots."
Senior Markkies Goodwin chipped in with 11 points for the Maroons. Junior Kyle Sweeney made a start and scored six.
Sophomore Donovan Franklin led O'Fallon with 21 points and three 3s. Sophomore Parker Roustio had 12 points and senior Charlie Harmon had nine.
The Panthers (7-17, 2-10) seemed to have a chance at an upset with West's personnel losses. Instead, O'Fallon fell behind 16-8 after one quarter and trailed 35-23 at halftime.
O'Fallon closed within 44-39 midway through the third quarter, but was turned away when Ferguson popped two 3-pointers and made a free throw in a span of 1 minute, 17 seconds. The second 3 put the Maroons ahead 51-42 with 1:28 left in the period.
"We knew they had a couple of kids out," Panthers coach Rick Gibson said. "We even told our kids, 'Hey, usually when teams have a couple of kids down, there's some other kids that step up and seem to play harder than what those starters play because they're trying to earn spots and trying to impress the coaches.'
"So we were fearful that some kids would step up, and (Ferguson) did. It's going to make them better down the road, for sure."
O'Fallon had another chance to cut into West's lead in the fourth quarter. After trimming a 60-45 deficit to 61-53, Franklin had a steal near midcourt and went in for an uncontested layup.
Instead, Franklin attempted a dunk that went off the back iron. Van Osdale was quickly fouled and sank a free throw that made it 62-53. Sweeney then had a layup off a Panthers turnover that pushed West's lead to 64-53 and took O'Fallon out of contention.
"At that point, we just need two," Gibson said of Franklin's dunk attempt. "We could have cut it to six right there, a two-possession game. Anything can happen. It's a big momentum shift because we didn't get that and then they go on a big (11-2) run.
"It didn't lose us the game. In the first three or four minutes, it felt like we lost that game. We didn't match their intensity. We played hard in spurts, but we didn't play hard consistently."
Muniz called the missed dunk "a big play in the game."
"That could have been a momentum-killer for them," he said.
Van Osdale missed his first seven shots from the field, but went 9-for-13 after that and was 9-for-11 from the free-throw line.
Before the game, it was announced that longtime Maroons coach Roger Mueller's name would be added to the Fritz Friedli Award, presented annually to the top male and female senior athlete at West. The award has been in existence since the 1960s.
Contact reporter David Wilhelm at email@example.com or 239-2665.