Offensive flow was largely nonexistent Tuesday when the fourth-seeded O’Fallon Panthers met sixth-seeded Belleville West in the semifinals of the Class 4A Belleville West Regional.
But sophomore Kaylee Hanger finally found some magic from the free-throw line in the final 1:14 as the Maroons eked out a 44-36 victory, their first win over the Panthers in three attempts this season.
The 5-foot-8 Hanger made nine free throws in the final 1:14 and finished with a game-best 14 points. West (18-11) will meet Edwardsville (27-1) in the title game at 7 p.m. Thursday.
The Tigers, who defeated eighth-seeded East St. Louis 66-37 in the other semifinal, defeated West 51-22 and 62-23 in the regular season.
“One way or another, you’re going to have to get through Edwardsville to get out of the sectional,” West coach Seth Garrett said. “The advantage of them being down here is we get them on our home court. I think the girls are ready. We’re going to go out and I guarantee we won’t play scared. We’re going to go right at them.
“But everybody knows you can’t just roll the balls out there and beat Edwardsville. We’re going to have to play our best game and follow the game plan.”
O’Fallon (16-12) was led by junior Marta Durk’s 10 points. The Panthers, who were tied with West at 31 after two free throws by sophomore Jayla Stubblefield with 6:06 to play, fell behind for good at 33-31 when West freshman Chayma Darough (nine points) had a putback.
“When you don’t get shots, you don’t score,” O’Fallon coach Ryan Massey said. “We had 27 turnovers, and I can’t tell you the last time we’ve done that in a game. I don’t know what it was. We were obviously rushed on the floor. We played very out of character.”
Edwardsville 66, East St. Louis 37
Junior Makenzie Silvey scored 24 points and sophomore Rachel Pranger had 20 as the top-seeded Tigers outscored the Flyerettes 34-17 in the second half.
Sophomore Kate Martin added 10 points for Edwardsville, which was 20-for-26 from the free-throw line. East Side (12-10) got 15 points from sophomore Rokelle Stanley and 14 from senior JaNesha Munson. The Flyerettes were 8-for-18 from the line.
The Tigers led 32-20 at halftime even with 6-0 junior Criste’on Waters on the bench with two fouls for the final 9:43.
“It was ugly throughout. I’ll be the first to say that,” Edwardsville coach Lori Blade said. “But right now, it’s about moving on. We survived and did some good things at times. But (East St. Louis’) athleticism and their speed makes it ugly at times, too. We executed well enough tonight, but we need to be a little bit better on Thursday.”
Calhoun 66, Lebanon 31
Senior Emma Ballman scored 25 points and the Lady Warriors dominated from the outset as the defeated the Greyhounds in the high school girls basketball semifinals of the Class 1A North Greene White Hall Sectional on Tuesday.
The Lady Warriors, who finished second in the Class 1A state tournament last year, jumped out to a 10-1 lead in the first 5 minutes of the first quarter over the undersized Greyhounds. Calhoun is 28-2 and ranked fifth in the state Class 1A poll.
Lebanon, 25-4, whose tallest player is 5-foot-10 Mallory Schmidt, was outrebounded 11-2 in the first quarter. Six of the rebounds were offensive and led to eight points as Calhoun took a 16-6 lead.
Lebanon cut the lead to 16-8 in the opening seconds of the second quarter on a basket by Kendra Bass but the Lady Warriors responded with a 24-8 run to end the first half with a 32-16 lead.
Lebanon, which won its fourth consecutive regional titlea week ago with a win over New Athens, was never able to climb within 10 points the rest of the game.
Bass led Lebanon with 14 points.
Calhoun advances to the regional championship game Thursday when the Lady Warriors will play West Central. The Cougars defeated Centralia Christ Our Rock Lutheran in the other semifinal on Monday.
Carterville 43, Mater Dei 38
Carterville’s chaotic zone defense was too much for Mater Dei to handle as the Knights fell in the Class 2A Sectional semifinal Tuesday night at Trico High School in Campbell Hill.
Mater Dei led 38-34 following a basket by Kelsey Gerdes with 4:13 left to play in the game. That’s when things went downhill in a hurry for the Knights.
Mater Dei would turn the ball over seven times from that point forward and the Lions would hit just enough free throws down the stretch to seal the victory.
The Knights would turn the ball over 22 times in the contest, coughing it up nine times in the fourth quarter alone against Carterville’s relentless pressure.
“They’re quick, I think they are the quickest team we’ve played against all year,” said Mater Dei coach Dave Kohnen, whose team ended with a record of 17-12. “We had some good looks at the basket a couple of times but they just close the lane down. They are exceptional athletes. Anybody that plays them is going to have their hands full, I’ll tell you that.”
The Lions (22-8) advance to Thursday’s sectional title game where they will take on Breese Central (26-5) at 7 p.m.