The O’Fallon girls basketball team rallied from second-half deficits of five, eight and 14 points against the Belleville East Lancers.
But the Panthers had only so many comebacks in them on their home floor Wednesday.
Belleville East made the final rally in an game marked by wide momentum swings and defeated O’Fallon, 70-65, in overtime.
Lancers sophomore Kaylah Rainey scored a game-high 23 points, including eight while in foul trouble, with the game on the line.
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“Sometimes I think Kayla just does stuff people aren’t used to seeing, and they call it a foul,” said East coach Amanda Kemezys. “Sometimes you forget she’s a sophomore as good as she is, but (foul trouble) is something she needs to work on because we need her on the floor.”
The Lancers (6-1) remain unbeaten in two early Southwestern Conference games. They defeated Alton on Tuesday.
Each conference victory will be important, Kemezys says, because of the parity in the league.
“There is a very small difference from the top to the bottom and that middle of the pack,” she said. “For us to keep asserting ourselves and getting the wins we need to is really important.”
The game’s outcome spoiled a determined effort by O’Fallon, which rallied late behind the defensive efforts of junior Jayla Stubblefield, who converted three fourth-quarter steals into easy layups, and Marta Durk, whose 3-point basket with 7.9 seconds left sent the game to overtime.
The Panthers fell to 3-2 in the first of 14-straight conference games ahead of them.
O’Fallon rallied ahead 24-16 on a 14-0 run in the second quarter. But East answered with a 25-3 run of their own. The Lancers held O’Fallon without a field goal during the run, which spanned nearly 13 minutes from the second to the third quarters.
“I think we took care of the ball better, we were more aggressive on offense and we got stops on defense when we needed to,” Kemezys said. “We really buckled down there at the end of the second quarter, start of the third.”
But the Panthers chipped away at the deficit and regained the lead, 49-48, on six-straight points from Stubblefield off turnovers.
An off-balance layup by Rainey and a free throw by Grace Tantillo put the Lancers back on top, but Durk was left wide open for the game-tying basket.
A 10-2 rally to start the four-minute overtime period put East in command for the win.
“They are a tough team. They started knocking down those threes, and that’s an easy way to get back in the game,” Kemezys said. “I’m just glad we were able to show poise in overtime and knock down our free throws.”
Sophomore Bryce Dowell scored 17 points for East, and Brittney Nitz scored 14.
Durk led O’Fallon with 22 points, Stubblefield had 16 and Tamia Cash finished with 13.