On a night of scoring runs it was the O’Fallon Panthers who had the final say on Tuesday the third annual O’Fallon Lady Panthers Tip-Off Classic.
Guard Jayla Stubblefield broke a 44-all tie with a short jumper early in the fourth quarter to ignite a 10-0 O’Fallon scoring run as the Panthers went on a for a 56-48 win over Hazelwood Central.
Fresh off a win over McCluer North on Monday, the Panthers (2-1) led for most of the first half and expanded their lead to as many as 11 points late in the third period. But when Hawks senior Ukari McKinney scored on an offensive rebound with just over seven minutes left, Hazelwood Central had tied the game at 44.
But after Stubblefield gave O’Fallon back the lead, guards Tamia Cash and Marta Durk responded by scoring the next eight points as O’Fallon retook the lead and the momentum for the remainder of the night. A basket by Durk with just over three minutes remaining gave the Panthers a 54-44 lead.
“They (Hazelwood) are a good basketball team and they’re going to win a lot of games this year. We were up in the third quarter and then they scored nine points on us in that run they had partly because we stopped moving our feet on the defense,’’ O’Fallon coach Ryan Massey said. “Plus they started getting the ball down low to No. 32 (McKnney) who is a big, strong player and we don’t have a lot of size.
“But I was pleased at how we were able to regain our composure. We played hard and we played good basketball tonight and that was good to see.’’
Durk, one of the top players in the Southwestern Conference , led O’Fallon with 19 points, while Divine Lane added 10 and Courtney Keller, making the first start of her varsity career, added nine points for O’Fallon.
“Courtney (Keller) made her first start tonight and I thought she did a nice job for us. She came out and scored a couple of baskets and I think that really may have relaxed her a little bit. It was good to see,’’ Massey said. “I have been making a list of things we need to work on in the early part of the season and tonight there weren’t as many.
“We still have some things to work on, but each night we’re playing a little better.’’