COLLINSVILLE — The O'Fallon Panthers heated up in the second half against the Collinsville Kahoks on Friday to grab a 48-45 win in a Southwestern Conference game.
Despite struggling from the field early, hitting just 2 of their first 20 shots, the Panthers still went into halftime with a 17-12 lead.
"A five-point lead in most games doesn't seem like a big run, but tonight it was," said O'Fallon coach Rick Gibson, whose team improved to 3-4. "We put one of those together in the third quarter, and they answered with one.
"We kept thinking down the stretch that we needed a score, and then a stop. It wasn't until the end, but we finally got that."
With 2 minutes and 5 seconds remaining, O'Fallon's Chance Armstrong scored to give the Panthers a 40-38 lead, and a technical foul against Collinsville coach Darin Lee put O'Fallon leading scorer Donovan Franklin on the free-throw line where he sank two free throws.
O'Fallon made all eight of its free throws down the stretch to help seal the win.
"It makes us feel good to finally get a win in the conference. This will boost our confidence," Donovan said.
The win ended a four-game losing streak for the Panthers, while the Kahoks lost their fifth straight.
"They played us man, and then they played zone. Our offense is still a work in progress," said Lee, whose team dropped to 3-5. "I'm disappointed in our execution in the first half, but we're trying to get better."
Collinsville's only second-quarter points came with 1:03 left in the half on a floater in the lane by junior forward Harrison Wethers.
The Panthers outscored the Kahoks 11-2 over the final nine minutes of the first half, Franklin tallying back-to-back baskets to close out the second quarter.
The junior guard led O'Fallon with 11 points. Junior Parker Roustio added nine.
"It was a great push of momentum. Those last baskets helped get us going," Franklin said.
O'Fallon bolted to a 24-17 lead in the third quarter, but Collinsville freshman guard Ronnie Midgett helped the Kahoks tie it at 28-28 with a 3-pointer with 2:23 remaining in the quarter.
Collinsville grabbed its first lead since leading 10-9 in the second quarter when junior center Sean Davis sank two free throws late in the third period.
A 3 by junior guard Anfirnee Wilkinson put the Kahoks ahead 34-33 in the fourth quarter, but O'Fallon regained the lead when guard Darien McClain answered with a 3.
Wilkinson led the Kahoks with 14 points, and 6-foot, 8-inch junior center Emondre Rickman scored seven of his 10 points in the second half.
"We got it to him quite a bit," Lee said. "He received the basketball a lot. He's still evolving as a player.
"He attacked the rim nice in the second half a few times."
The Panthers' defense, though, sealed the win by allowing only two Collinsville field goals in the final five minutes.
"We knew they had some big guys, but I thought our kids did a good job in there," Gibson said. "We were able to limit them from getting second chances."