The O’Fallon boys basketball team continues to earn respect in area basketball circles. Preseason predictions of a rocky road through the 2016-17 campaign are now only a distant memory as the Panthers, with a spirited team effort and multiple contributors, have not only survived the hardwood challenges they have faced, but they have thrived.
Despite a conference loss to East St. Louis in their most recent outing, the OTHS squad earned some additional respect recently when they roared to the championship of the Denver Miller tournament, knocking off two highly-ranked Missouri schools in the process.
This week’s top athlete — senior Deion Norfleet — was one of the OTHS players instrumental in O’Fallon’s tourney run. The Panther cager, the son of Donald and Melissa Norfleet, is no stranger to stellar athletic performances, having earned All-Area honors on the football field before hitting the hardwoods. In the Denver Miller tournament, Norfleet was an offensive force for the Panthers as well as a defensive stalwart. His superior efforts on both ends of the floor earned him All-Tournament honors.
“Deion has given us a great effort throughout the season,” said OTHS head coach Brian Muniz. “His quickness and athleticism make him difficult to guard and have helped us apply the pressure that we need defensively to succeed as a team.”
That athletic prowess provided by Norfleet was instrumental in the Panthers’ football success in the fall and has been transferred to the OTHS basketball program this winter. In O’Fallon’s most recent contest against East St. Louis, the Panther playmaker led the team with 15 points. A contributor on the boards as well as with assists and steals, Norfleet’s versatility has helped propel the Panthers to a 12-6 record entering the final month of the basketball campaign.
“I participate in basketball because I love the sport,” Norfleet said. “I was four when I began playing. It was just a sport that I picked up at an early age. Hard work and dedication have contributed to my success in both basketball and football. Overall, athletics have helped me become a leader, and it is a way for me to influence others.”