Had the O’Fallon girls basketball team repeated the result of its season debut, Wednesday’s game would have been its last.
But the Panthers were able to avenge their season-opening loss to Glenwood by ending the Titans’ season with a 63-47 win in the Class 4A Springfield Regional at Willard Duey Gymnasium.
O’Fallon (19-9) moves into the regional championship against Springfield at 7 p.m. Friday. Springfield (25-4) beat Quincy 57-30 in Wednesday’s nightcap.
Marta Durk, a junior guard, led the Panthers (19-9) with 22 points, and along the way, she rarely missed. She was 9 of 11 at the free-throw line and 6 of 7 from the field. She had 14 points in the second half.
Glenwood missed 46 of 60 shots, including 18 of 23 3-pointers. The Titans (19-11) didn’t get a field goal until Makenzie Bray hit a layup with 5:23 left in the first half.
“Defensively in the first half, we were very good — very, very good,” O’Fallon coach Ryan Massey said. “I could not be more pleased with our defensive effort and our half-court defense.
“Offensively, we had 11 turnovers in the first half. Now I know that’s being picky as a coach, we’re up by 18, but I was not very happy with that — and nine of those were in the second quarter. I’m sitting here like, ‘Come on guys; you knew they had some fight in them.’ (Glenwood’s) a great ball club. Josh does a great job with them, (and) Bray is a handful.”
O’Fallon ended with 30 turnovers, losing the takeaway battle by 10.
Maddie Klintworth led Glenwood with 17 points, while Bray finished with 12.
“We came out flat, and to O’Fallon’s credit, they hit some big shots early — were all over us — and we didn’t respond real well,” Glenwood coach Josh Crossland said. “After that initial flurry, we spotted them 18, and then we won it after that. But we just waited too long to turn it on.
“We missed a couple of shots that we normally hit, we had some turnovers we wish we could have back and once it snowballed, it grew from there.”
The Panthers led by 20 late in the third quarter but allowed the Titans to go on a 10-2 to crawl back within 13 with 4:38 left, and within 46-35 when Maddie Wichmann hit a 3-pointer with 4:23 remaining.
Glenwood was able to get within 54-45 when Ciara Lahr connected on a couple of free throws, but by then, just 1:09 remained, and the Titans ran out of time.
“It is hard, but it shouldn’t be,” Massey said about staying focused with a big lead. “You’ve got to have a killer instinct. When you’ve got a team on the ropes, finish them off.”