A nail-biter for the second straight night ended with another win for Chatham Glenwood High School’s girls basketball team Thursday.
The Titans scored a 48-44 victory against O’Fallon and won the Class 4A Glenwood Regional championship game.
Like in Wednesday’s 50-49 overtime regional semifinal win over Springfield High, the contest was decided in the final minute.
“I thought the win (Wednesday night) helped prepare us for (Thursday),” Glenwood senior Makenzie Bray said. “My class hasn’t won a regional since eighth grade, so it’s been a goal for a while.”
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Bray made the first of two free throws and tied the scored at 43-all with 1:20 remaining. She hit the go-ahead free throws with 46.4 seconds left, and Glenwood was up 45-43.
Senior Sydney Thurwalker got O’Fallon within a single point with 24.7 seconds to go. She sank the first foul shot but missed the second. Glenwood senior Ciara Lahr rebounded Thurwalker’s missed free throw and was fouled with 22.9 seconds.
Lahr made both free throws, and the Titans owned a 47-44 lead.
Thurwalker got off a potential game-tying 3-pointer with 10 seconds left. Lahr grabbed the rebound and was fouled again. She missed the first foul shot but converted the second to extend the Titans’ lead to four points with 5.4 seconds remaining.
O’Fallon senior Jayla Stubblefield attempted a 3-point shot in the closing seconds, but Bray reeled in the rebound at the buzzer.
Bray finished with a game-high 22 points. Lahr scored 16.
“It was knockout punch after knockout punch,” O’Fallon coach Nick Knolhoff said. “It was back and forth, and back and forth. When it comes down to so few possessions, you look back, and we had an opportunity to tie the game as well from the free-throw line. It’s hard to play a team in a regional championship on their own court. I’m so proud of our girls and the effort they gave.”
The Titans are regional champions for the first time since the 2012-13 season when it claimed a Class 3A title. Glenwood (23-8) advances to the Champaign Centennial Sectional where it will play either last year’s state runner-up Edwardsville or Belleville East in a semifinal Monday at 6 p.m. Edwardsville (26-0) and Belleville East (18-9) play Friday in a regional title game at Belleville East.
It took a strong second-half effort against O’Fallon (25-5) to keep Glenwood’s season alive.
For the second consecutive game, the Titans tarted slow. O’Fallon owned the first half. It was ahead 13-2 at the end of the first quarter and ahead 21-13 at halftime.
“We talked (at halftime) how we were going to have to grind it out,” Glenwood coach Marne Fauser said. “It was the same situation we were in (against Springfield) being down six at halftime. We said we are going to have to grind it out, and it’s going to have to start on the defensive end for us.”
Glenwood shifted the momentum its way in the first few minutes of the third quarter.
“Right off the bat we had a couple of turnovers and we got a couple of defensive stops,” Bray said.
Added Fauser, “Our defense propelled our offense. They work hard. O’Fallon is a great team. They’re bigger. They’re longer and some of their kids are quicker. We just had to keep fighting.
“I told them we had to make good passes, take better care of the ball, and we had to hit the boards.”
The Titans’ offense also came alive after halftime. It opened the second half on a 7-0 run and closed the deficit to 21-20. Bray’s 3-pointer at the 3:31 mark of the third gave Glenwood its first lead. The Titans led 24-23.
“I know we dominated the first half with our boards and our defense, but I still felt like we could have extended that lead a little more,” Knolhoff said. “We missed some easy layups, and we were 4 for 8 from the free-throw line. Those opportunities you don’t get quite often, and you’ve got to take advantage of them.
“In the second half, they stepped up their pressure and their zone. We kind of got away from our offense a little bit and forced some outside looks rather than looking to throw the ball inside. The first three minutes of the third quarter is really what got us.”
Thurwalker led O’Fallon with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Ashley Schloer contributed 12 points and eight rebounds.