O'FALLON — East St. Louis coach Anthony Young is a firm believer that in order to be successful in the Southwestern Conference a team has to have depth.
And Friday night at the O'Fallon Panther Dome, it was the Flyers' depth which was the difference.
Senior Darrion Beane scored 10 of his 12 points in the fourth quarter and the Flyers made seven of eight free throws in the final 90 seconds to help clinch a 61-53 victory over O'Fallon.
Plagued with foul trouble for much of the night, Beane scored on an offensive rebound and followed with a conventional three-point play late in the fourth quarter. Bean's three-point play came with 2 minutes 22 seconds remaining and gave the Flyers a 52-47 lead.
The Flyers' Antonio Johnson and Karon Randolph followed with a pair of free throws as East St. Louis (15-7, 7-4 SWC) put the game away.
"Darrion had a rough night and was in foul trouble for most of the game, but he stepped up in the fourth quarter. But our depth was the difference in the game. Guys like Antonio (Johnson) and Tyrone Riley came off the bench and just played great for us,'' Young said. "This is a big win for us to be able to come into this gym and beat a very good basketball team in O'Fallon.
"But right now, it's about improvement. Getting better each game and getting ready for the postseason. We've got a week left.''
Senior Karon Randolph led the Flyers with 19 points. Johnson and Beane added 12 apiece.
Seemingly playing its best basketball coming into the SWC contest, O'Fallon battled from behind most of the game.
Although a bit disorganized on the offensive end and struggling to solve the Flyers' full-court pressure, coach Rick Gibson's squad never trailed by more than eight points until late in the game.
But the Panthers biggest lead of the game was four points.
"It just seemed like we were a step behind tonight and when we had a chance to make a little run, we couldn't hit the shot or we'd turn the ball over,'' Gibson said. "We didn't do a very good job of checking off and we had a lot of turnovers.
"We weren't as aggressive as we needed to be against their pressure.''
Randolph, who scored 11 of his points in the first half, gave East St. Louis a 25-19 lead late in the first half. But O'Fallon, getting strong play from juniors Darien McClain and Donovan Franklin, had cut the deficit to 27-26 by halftime.
Franklin led O'Fallon with (15-9, 8-4) with 19 points. McClain added 15.
Late 3-point shots from Franklin and reserve Bradley Harrison in the third quarter helped O'Fallon tie it at 37.
But the Flyers took over in the final five minutes, Beane scoring on a fast break while Randolph tallied inside.
O'Fallon did respond to tie the game at 44, Franklin hitting a 3 and Isaiah Armstrong scoring on an offensive putback, but the Flyers took command not long after that.