There may have been more than a few bruises after a physical game Thursday, but the Collinsville Kahoks left the O’Fallon Panther Dome with smiles on their faces.
Collinsville took control with a 13-0 run midway through the first half and kept pushing and pushing for a 57-44 Southwestern Conference girls basketball victory over the O’Fallon Panthers.
Kahoks senior guard Aubreeny Brady led the way with 19 points while Kassidy Smith had nine as Collinsville (12-10) improved to 4-6 in league play. Nothing came easy at either end with both teams trying to muscle up on each other, leading to a combined 42 fouls.
“Very physical,” said Collinsville coach Lori Billy, whose team lost the previous meeting to O’Fallon 55-51 on Dec. 11 in a game where the Panthers shot 41 free throws. “I just told the girls I don’t think O’Fallon gets enough credit for what they do. They’re very physical and Coach (Ryan) Massey always has his kids ready to play. We knew coming in it was going to be a battle.”
Billy was pleased with her way her team withstood O’Fallon’s comeback bid throughout the second half. O’Fallon (9-11, 6-5) had trimmed a 14-point deficit to 34-37 at halftime and seemed poised to make a run, but instead lost for the seventh time in the last nine games.
“We felt like we had a pretty good command of the last game and we just got sloppy,” Billy said. “We just put them at the line too many times. This time we talked about being in control, building a lead and then taking care of that lead. It worked out for us.”
The Kahoks’ defense also had a lot to say about the final outcome as they limited O’Fallon to only seven field goals over the final three quarters. The Panthers got 17 points from Marta Durk but 6-foot-2 sophomore Celeste Akoro, who averages just under 11 points, scored only one as the guards struggled to get her the ball.
Nineteen turnovers had something to do with it as well.
“I thought we played hard tonight,” O’Fallon coach Ryan Massey said. “I thought we played our tails off tonight, but what I thought we didn’t do was play very poised tonight. We played very rushed and we allowed a little bit of their pressure to get to us.
“We handled the ball very lax on the perimeter.”
When O’Fallon managed to put a few baskets together, Brady or someone else was usually there to stop the run quickly. Smith had nine points for the Kahoks and Carlee Mahan and Gabby Morgan had seven each.
Brady had 11 of her 19 points in the second half.
“That’s just Aubreeny, she’s just that kind of kid,” Billy said. “She’s been that for us all season. When we need a big play or need somebody to just calm us down and take care of the ball, she does it.”
Collinsville caught fire late in the first quarter, then embarked on a 13-0 run in the second to push its lead to 33-16. The Panthers were scoreless in the second quarter until Susan Hubbard hit a baseline jumper at the 2:55 mark.
After a couple timeouts, O’Fallon regrouped and closed out the first half with stronger play.