Edwardsville senior Jack Marinko scored 25 of his 34 points in the second half, and the Tigers broke away late for a 71-59 road win over O’Fallon.
Looking to get on track in the SWC, O’Fallon (6-7, 2-4) led 28-24 at halftime and was tied with the Tigers at 42 heading into the fourth quarter.
But with the score knotted at 45 following a short jumper by Panthers senior Ronnie Anthony, Marinko, the leading scorer in the Southwestern Conference, hit one of his six 3-point shots to give Edwardsville the lead for good.
A pair of free throws by Marinko followed by a short jumper by senior RJ Wilson extended the lead, and when Malik Robinson added a pair of free throws, the Tigers held a 54-47 lead with just more than five minutes left.
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O’Fallon would get no closer than four points the rest of the night, as Edwardsville (10-3) went on for its fifth win in six SWC games.
Strohmeier added 16 points, and senior RJ Wilson added 10 for the Tigers. But it was Marinko, averaging 26.7 points per game, who took over the offensive load for the Tigers in the second half.
“I thought Jack (Marinko) really did a nice job for us tonight. In the first half, I thought he did a good job of looking to set up his teammates, and he made some nice passes. But in the second half, I thought he looked for his shot a little more,” Tigers coach Mike Waldo said. “I was really pleased with the way we executed on both ends of the floor.
“O’Fallon has a good team, and we needed to play well to win the game.”
Ronnie Anthony led O’Fallon with 21 points, 17 of which came before the fourth quarter. Jalen Hodge added 15 for O’Fallon, which after leading by as many as five points midway through the third quarter, couldn’t contain Marinko and company down the stretch.
“We were tied at 45 early in the fourth quarter, and then he (Marinko) hits the 3 to put his team ahead. When Edwardsville gets a lead late, they’re difficult to play because of the tempo they play. But we didn’t help ourselves. We took some ill-advised shots to try and get back even,” Panthers coach Brian Muniz said. “He (Marinko) is a great shooter and does a nice job of moving and creating his own shots.
“But Edwardsville also does a nice job of setting screens to help him get open.”
Muniz said his team needs to find other scoring options.
“Ronnie (Anthony) had a very nice game tonight, and Jalen (Hodge) had a good game for us,” Muniz said. “I think we’re improving as we go along here. We just need to keep working hard.”