After 17 years as an assistant coach, Brian Muniz went only two games into his head coaching career at O’Fallon High School to collect his first victory.
That one came Tuesday night against Waterloo as the O’Fallon Panthers used relentless defensive pressure in the second half to pull out a 59-48 victory over the Bulldogs at the Highland Thanksgiving Tournament.
“It feels great,” said Muniz, a longtime assistant coach at O’Fallon whose brother, Joe Muniz, is the head coach at Belleville West. “Joe got his first win versus Waterloo when he was a first-year coach, so Waterloo’s been good to us.”
Waterloo (0-2) wasn’t good to the Panthers in the first half Tuesday, riding the early hto scoring of Dylan Hunt and Ben Huels to grab a 25-24 halftime lead.
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Huels scored all nine of his first-half points in the second quarter and Hunt had all six of his in the first quarter.
Waterloo still led 30-29 following a 3-pointer by Huels, but O’Fallon’s quickness and defensive pressure began to bother the Bulldogs at both ends.
“Our team has to play that way because we don’t have the physical presence that we can just throw the ball to someone and know they’re going to score,” Muniz said. “Whoever has the open shot takes it and if guys have the open lane ,they go to it. Jarvus Smith had one point last night and tonight he had 12.
“We feel we have five, six or seven guys that can score the ball. We’ve got to use everybody.”
O’Fallon’s balance was readily apparent as Smith had 12 points, Jalen Hodge had 11 and Deion Norfleet scored nine. Alex Orr, Ryan Fulton and Ronnie Anthony contributed seven points each.
“The second half, we did a much better job of staying in front and making them make plays,” Muniz said. “They had a hard time making plays against our defense and we didn’t foul, so we didn’t put them at the line either.”
O’Fallon (1-1) took a 41-36 lead into the fourth quarter, then the Bulldogs lost top scorer Huels when he fouled out. Huels picked up as personal foul and technical foul with 6:45 remaining.
Huels and Eli Dodd each had 12 points for Waterloo.
Edwardsville 66, Carbondale 55
Edwardsville senior guard and Division I prospect Mark Smith fired in 31 points as the Tigers improved to 2-0 at the tourney. Carbondale (1-1) got 17 points from Darius Beane.
LeBron donates shoes to Althoff
Some very nice pairs of Nike LeBron Soldier 10 basketball shoes were apparently donated to the Althoff Crusaders basketball team none other than “King James” himself, Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James.
Several Althoff players posted pictures of the new kicks on Twitter and at least one posted a copy of a letter from James that congratulated the Crusaders for coming back after a 2015 state basketball championship game loss to win the 2016 state title last March.
Here is what the letter said:
“Crusaders: A loss can be the best thing that ever happened. 2 years ago you felt that sting, but it revealed what was under the surface. You refocused, you believed, in each other and now you have the title. Win or lose. Be there for you brother. LeBron”