GODFREY — O'Fallon's magical postseason run slammed into a roadblock Tuesday night.
Edwardsville scored 12 of the first 14 points of the second half and powered its way to a 59-38 victory over the Panthers in the semifinals of the Class 4A Pekin Sectional at Alton High School.
Junior Shawn Roundtree had 16 points to lead the Tigers (28-2), who will play Rock Island (25-4) in the championship game at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Pekin High. Rock Island beat Normal West 63-55 in the other semifinal.
"We knew we had to come out (strong)," Roundtree said of the Tigers' early push in the second half. "Those first minutes are valuable. We had to set the tone in the second half. We knew if we did that, we were going to be fine throughout the game."
Senior Tre' Harris added 13 points for Edwardsville, while senior Garret Covington and junior Armon Fletcher had 11 apiece.
Senior Tyus Berry had a team-high nine points for the Panthers (9-20), who reached the sectional with dramatic victories over Southwestern Conference champion Belleville East and Collinsville in the O'Fallon Regional.
Senior Todd Porter had seven points off the bench for O'Fallon.
"We were right there at half," said Panthers coach Rick Gibson, whose team trailed 24-18 at the break. "I felt like we didn't play real great the first half. They didn't really, either. They weren't shooting it real well, and that's what we needed.
"We needed a night when they weren't making shots. I thought we got that in the first half and we were in striking distance at six. We didn't feel too bad. Then in that first minute ..."
Covington opened the third quarter with a 3-pointer to make it 27-18 at the 7:48 mark, and Harris followed with another 3-pointer off an O'Fallon turnover to make it 30-18 with 7:05 to play.
Fletcher's steal and layup extended the margin to 32-18 with 6:41 left, and the deficit proved too much for O'Fallon to overcome.
After sophomore Donovan Franklin scored in the lane to cut Edwardsville's lead to 32-20, Roundtree drove to the hoop for two baskets out of the spread offense, and suddenly the Tigers had a 36-20 advantage.
Edwardsville outscored O'Fallon 19-6 in the period, and was up 43-24 heading into the fourth quarter.
"That's a good zone they play, and they played it differently than they had the first two times they played us," Edwardsville coach Mike Waldo said of the Tigers, who recorded their third win of the season over the Panthers. "They played more of a flatter three-two and matched out of it. I thought it was real good.
"In the second half, we were able to get a couple of 3s in a row and that's what helped us get away from them."
The Panthers' heroes in the regional, Franklin and sophomore Darien McClain, were subdued by the Tigers.
Franklin, who was pivotal in the overtime victory over Belleville East, managed just five points on 2-for-10 shooting. McClain, whose seven points in less than a minute wiped out Collinsville's four-point lead in the fourth quarter, was held scoreless on 0-for-5 shooting.
"We hadn't been playing with nerves," Gibson said. "Last week, I thought we were playing loose. I don't know if tonight, the magnitude of it being a sectional, the nerves hit into a couple of sophomores. They were a little more timid, a little more nervous than I had seen them play before."
Roundtree said the Tigers respected what the Panthers accomplished in the regional, but that the sectional a new event.
"We knew if we could get rebounds and defend, there was no way they were going to be in the game," Roundtree said. "As long as we defended, stayed together and kept talking on defense, that was going to win the game."
O'Fallon grabbed a quick 5-0 lead before Edwardsville grabbed its first lead at 10-7 on a 3-pointer by Roundtree at the 2:09 mark.
Porter's 3-pointer pulled the Panthers into a 12-all to open the second quarter, but Fletcher answered with five consecutive points to put Edwardsville ahead 17-12.
Junior Naason Cook's 3-pointer trimmed O'Fallon's deficit to 17-15 with 3:24 to play in the second quarter, but 3-pointers by Roundtree and Covington kept the Tigers in control.
-- Contact reporter David Wilhelm at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2665.