Fresh off making history last week at the Visitation Tournament in St. Louis, the Edwardsville Tigers returned to the business of dominating the Southwestern Conference on Friday at the Panther Dome.
Ranked first in the Class 4A state poll, the undefeated Tigers got 28 points in the first half from its big three of seniors Kate Martin, Rachel Pranger and Myriah Noodel-Haywood. Edwardsville jumped out to a 37-13 halftime lead and rolled past O’Fallon 51-36 in the SWC showdown.
Riding the momentum of winning the Mascoutah Invitational for the first time in history last week, O’Fallon (13-2) was dealt a blow Friday when leading scorer Sydney Thurwalker picked up two fouls in the first 3:30 of the game.
Without their top inside presence, the Panthers had little chance of slowing down the Tigers’ trio.
Edwardsville (15-0, 6-0), which became the first Illinois team to win the Visitation Tournament, led 12-5 after one quarter and used a 17-2 scoring run over the final four minutes of the second quarter to rake a 24-point lead at halftime.
Edwardsville is ranked No. 3 in the nation by the Stateline Sports Network and No. 19 by USA Today.
“I thought we came out a little slow early, then picked it up midway through the first quarter, then played very well in the second quarter,” Edwardsville coach Lori Blade said. “O’Fallon is having a good season and playing very well. I thought it was important that we were able to get out and play well in the second quarter.
“(Sydney) Thurwalker picking up those two quick fouls I thought really hurt O’Fallon and was a key early in the game because of what she does on both ends of the court.”
Panthers coach Nick Knolhoff agreed.
“It hurt when Sydney got two fouls in what, the first two minutes of the game, then spelling her for a minute here and a minute there. But Edwardsville does such a good job of getting the ball to Pranger, Haywood and Martin.
“Those three kids just know where the others are on the floor at all times. This was a learning experience for us. If we can take a positive out of this, it’s that we played better in the second half.”
Martin led Edwardsville with 15 points, while Pranger added 13. Haywood chipped in with 11.
Sophomore Makayla Best led O’Fallon with seven points.