Large runs to open the first and second halves were enough to power the Edwardsville Tigers on Thursday.
The Tigers opened the game with a 17-0 surge and then scored the first 13 points of the second half en route to a 59-41 victory over O’Fallon in a Southwestern Conference girls basketball game.
It was the 10th consecutive victory for Edwardsville (14-1 overall, 5-1 SWC), which got a game-high 19 points from 6-foot sophomore Rachel Pranger, 15 points from 5-11 sophomore Katie Martin and 11 points from 5-11 junior Makenzie Silvey.
“Our coaches always tell us, ‘The start of the game, the first eight minutes, really sets the tone for the rest of the game,’” Pranger said. “It’s good that we came out strong. We got more confident throughout the game and it made our energy better.”
O’Fallon, which played well at times despite the loss, fell to 9-6 and 4-3. The Panthers committed 15 of their 19 turnovers in the first half.
“In the first quarter when I called the timeout I looked at my girls and I think their hearts were beating about 180 beats a minute,” Panthers coach Ryan Massey said. “I said, ‘Calm down.’ I think that was part of the big problem, the fact we just rushed. We forced things and pushed a little too hard.
“When you get playing that fast and you get rushed, it’s hard. We were trying to do stuff with the ball before we even had it in our hands. We’ve got to play a much more calm game offensively against them.”
The game was virtually decided in the first 6 minutes, 30 seconds when the Tigers reeled off the opening 17 points. Pranger and Martin combined for 15 of the points, with 6-0 junior Criste’on Waters getting the other two.
The Panthers finally got on the board when sophomore Celeste Akoro scored in the lane. Junior Marta Durk’s two free throws made it 17-4 at the end of the period.
In the first quarter when I called the timeout I looked at my girls and I think their hearts were beating about 180 beats a minute. I said, ‘Calm down.’ I think that was part of the big problem, the fact we just rushed. We forced things and pushed a little too hard.
O’Fallon coach Ryan Massey
O’Fallon got within 22-13 on senior Becca Althoff’s layup, but it trailed 27-15 at halftime. Edwardsville then opened the third quarter with 13 straight points to lead 40-15 at the 3:08 mark. Silvey had two 3-pointers during the stretch and Martin also had one.
“The first four minutes of the game and the first three or four minutes of the third quarter set the tone for the game,” Edwardsville coach Lori Blade said. “I thought we played really hard for 32 minutes, which you have to (against) them. They’re probably better than what that score shows, but we executed really well tonight. That’s the reason for that separation.”
Pranger, Martin and Silvey were a combined 16-for-33 from the field and 8-for-11 from the free-throw line. Their productivity in the paint had O’Fallon on its heels most of the time.
O’Fallon was led by junior Marta Durk’s 13 points, but Durk missed her first 10 shots from the field before scoring on a putback with 2:13 remaining in the third quarter that made it 43-17. Durk finished 3-for-14 from the field.
They’re excited; I’m sure everybody is. But we have to focus on doing our job, and if we do it defensively like we did tonight, I really like our chances. We’ve come a long way since that game, so it will be interesting.
Edwardsville coach Lori Blade on her players’ mindset for rematch against Collinsville
Akoro finished with eight points and Tamia Cash came off the bench and contributed seven.
“Our team defense was really good tonight,” Blade said. “We’ve harped on it and harped on it. You have to do that with those (O’Fallon) kids because they’ve got some slashers and some shooters, and they’re big in the middle.”
Edwardsville will play host to Collinsville at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. The Kahoks sank 10 3-pointers and defeated the Tigers 70-68 on Dec. 3 in Collinsville, ending Edwardsville’s 89-game SWC winning streak.
“We haven’t talked about it much other than from the learning perspective,” Blade said. “They’re excited; I’m sure everybody is. But we have to focus on doing our job, and if we do it defensively like we did tonight, I really like our chances. We’ve come a long way since that game, so it will be interesting.”
Pranger said: “Especially being at home, we’ll be excited.”
O’Fallon, meanwhile, will play host to Granite City at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.