Panthers shake off disappointment of semifinal loss to place third at Centralia

News-DemocratDecember 28, 2013 

— A heart-breaking semifinal loss didn't keep the O'Fallon Panthers from finishing the Centralia Holiday Tournament on a high note.

Donovan Franklin scored 23 points and pulled down nine rebounds as the Panthers rolled past the Champaign Central Maroons 65-51 Saturday night in the third-place game.

"Those third-place games are usually two teams that are disappointed that they're not playing in the last game, and it's kind of about getting energy and competiting," O'Fallon coach Rick Gibson said. "They are usually not the prettiest of games. I'm proud of our kids. They bounced back from a tough loss that a lot of teams could take a long time to get over. They responded well today."

The Panthers (7-6) also got 12 points and four assists from Darien McClain, 11 points from Bradley Harrison and 10 points from Chance Armstrong.

The Maroons (6-6) were paced by Noah Wells with 14 points and Kameron Rowan with 11.

The Panthers fell behind 7-0, but got three straight 3-pointers from Harrison to get within 13-12 by the end of the first quarter.

O'Fallon took a 14-13 lead on a basket by Armstrong at the start of the second quarter.

The score was tied at 19-19 when the Panthers put together a 8-2 run to go up 27-21 before halftime. McClain and Franklin each had 3s to key the rally.

Franklin had six points during a 10-0 run in the third quarter that stretched O'Fallon's lead to 39-24.

The closest the Maroons would get the rest of the way was 11 points.

The Panthers ended up in the third-place game after a 62-60 semifinal loss to the Alton Redbirds.

Armstrong shot an airball from close range after being bumped on the potential game-tying attempt with one second left.

The Panthers earlier had a chance to take the lead, but Franklin was tied up by Alton's Michael Williams-Bey for a jump ball as he drove to the basket with 15 seconds remaining.

The possession arrow pointed to the Redbirds.

"I know he got hit pretty hard and the referee just decided to swallow his whistle, and that jump ball, the wrong official made the call on that," Gibson said. "It's one thing if they were right calls, but I feel like they were wrong calls and everybody in the stands feels like they were wrong calls."

Franklin led all scorers with 23 points. McClain and Armstrong each had 11 points and Parker Rousito had nine.

The Redbirds, who were playing their second game without junior Carlos Anderson, were led by Williams-Bey with 18 points and five steals and De'Antae McMurray with 17 points.

Anderson has a broken knuckle in the index finger on his right hand.

The Panthers trailed by 11 points with 3 1/2 minutes to go, but managed to get within 61-60 on a layup by Franklin with 35 seconds to go.

Williams-Bey missed the first, but made the second of two free throws with 8.6 seonds on the clock.

Franklin dribbled up court, but Williams-Bey poked the ball out of bounds with 3.7 seconds left.

Gibson called a timeout to set up a last play.

"We were trying to get it to Franklin, but we had Armstrong as our second option on the block," Gibson said.

The Panthers got the ball to Armstrong, whose defender had left him to help out on Franklin. Another defender rotated over and made contact with Armstrong on the shot.

Cahokia 52, Madison College Prep 35

Gary Hickman scored 16 points and Darius Austin had 15 points, seven rebounds, four assists and five blocked shots as the Cahokia Comanches beat the Madison College Prep Bears in the fifth-place game.

The Comanches (9-4) made the best of their situation after being upset by O'Fallon the previous day.

"We've been wanting to play those guys for a while, but not under these circumstances," Cahokia coach Darian Nash said of the Bears. "Maybe for a championship. We'll take it now that we've got it, but we have a lot of work to do."

Cahokia led 22-20 at halftime thanks to a 16-foot jumper by Hickman at the end of the second quarter.

The Comanches went on a 14-0 run early in the third quarter to turn a 22-21 lead into a 36-21 advantage.

"The first half we didn't run any sets, so we were disappointed about that," Nash said. "At halftime, we got on them about running our sets and playing our game and we'll pull away. And, we did."

The Bears went more than 4 1/2 minutes without scoring before Arlando Cook broke the drought with a layup.

Madison College Prep (10-2) was led by Anthony Lee with 10 points.

The Comanches advanced to the fifth-place game by beating Raleigh Egypt 59-46 on Saturday morning.

Carleton Rivers Jr. scored 13 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and dished out six assists for the Comanches.

Cahokia also got 12 points from both Hickman and DeVonte Williams and nine points and nine rebounds from Austin.

The Comanches outrebounded the Pharaohs 36-26 in the game.

The Pharaohs, who exited the tourney with a 5-6 record, were led by Fatodd Lewis with 11 points.

Madison College Prep 45, Belleville West 40

Madison College Prep sank 19 of its 23 free-throw attempts in knocking the Maroons out of the tourney.

Levi Stockard had 12 points, Daniel Farris had 11 points and Anthony Lee had 10 points for the Bears.

The top scorer for the Maroons was Demond White with eight points. Freshman Tyler Dancy added seven points.

Contact reporter Steve Korte at or 239-2522.

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