BELLEVILLE — The O'Fallon Panthers had Collinsville against the ropes early on Monday in a first round game at the Class 4A Belleville East Girls Basketball Regional.
But in the end it was the Kahoks who were left standing.
Sophomore Kassidy Smith tallied all 14 of her points in the second half to spark a Kahoks rally as Collinsville defeated O'Fallon 48-38 before a large turnout at Belleville East High School.
O'Fallon (11-15) came out blazing. With senior Ciara Jones scoring six points, O'Fallon hit its first five shots and led 10-0 with still over five minutes remaining in the first quarter. The lead grew to 11 before four points each from Gabby Morgan and Aubreeney Brady brought Collinsville to within 15-10 after one quarter.
"I think we panicked early,'' Kahoks coach Lori Billy said. "Give (O'Fallon) coach (Ryan) Massey credit. O'Fallon came out with a game plan and they executed it to perfection. We just needed to settle down and take a deep breath. We were fine. We just needed to hit some shots."
With the 5-foot-10 Smith setting the tone with two quick hoops to start the third quarter, Collinsville took its first lead then made nine of 12 free throws in the fourth quarter to the seal the deal against their Southwestern Conference rivals.
The win moves the Kahoks (11-15) into a semifinal matchup with top-seed Belleville West on Tuesday at 6 p.m.
Second-seeded East St. Louis will take on third-seed Belleville East at 8 p.m. The two semifinal winners will meet for the regional title on Thursday at 7 p.m.
Brady, a swift junior guard, also scored 14 points for Collinsville which got a solid eight points and good defense from Julie Scheiter who along with several other Kahoks, held O'Fallon senior Jasmine Bonds to 12 points.
Jones led O'Fallon with 13 points. But the 5-10 senior was in foul trouble for much of the second half when she was held to one point.
The loss was a tough one for Massey to take. With six seniors and an early 11-point lead, the Panthers looked to be in control. But on this night, Collinsville had different ideas.
"Obviously we came out and played very well early. We were playing a zone defense I don't think Collinsville had seen before. But coach Billy made the adjustments,'' Massey said. "We just didn't shoot the ball well in the second half. We had good shots. Some of them were from close range. We just didn't make them.
"I thought another key was at the foul line. We had a chance to have even bigger lead and we missed our free throws. We ended the night 9 of 21 from the line. We're normally a 65 percent team shooting free throws.''
O'Fallon also had 21 turnovers to just 17 for Collinsville.
Trailing 21-16 at halftime, Collinsville got back into the game. Two free throws by Scheiter with 2:45 left in the period tied the game at 26 and when Smith scored on an offensive rebound 36 seconds later, the Kahoks had the lead for good at 28-26.
"Kassidy has really worked hard on her low post game. We wanted to go inside more in the second half and I thought our guards did a better job of looking in the post more,'' Billy said. "Belleville West will be a big test for us. We played them about a week ago and were in the game with four minutes left. Hopefully we'll do a better job of finishing on Tuesday.''
Contact reporter Dean Criddle at 239-2661 or firstname.lastname@example.org