O’Fallon senior guard Alex Orr was nervous doing a video interview.
But he didn’t look nervous with the ball in his hands in the final 29 seconds of the Panthers’ 55-51 upset of the Jennings Warriors in Monday night’s championship game of the Denver Miller Classic at Kirkwood High School.
With the Panthers holding onto a 49-47 lead, all Orr did in the final seconds was make a key steal on the defensive end which led to a pair of free throws that gave O’Fallon a four-point edge.
After that, following Jennings’ scores that cut the deficit back to two, Orr drained four more free throws in the remaining 17.6 seconds to assure O’Fallon came away with the win.
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“The team needed a stop, we needed to make a play on the defensive end,” said Orr, of his steal off an inbounds at Jennings’ end of the floor. “Luckily, I made the play and hit the free throws.”
Orr would top the Panthers, who earned their third straight win, all at Kirkwood, with 13 points.
“I was nervous,” said Orr, who came into the game having made 31 of 41 free throws for the season, “but again, I was confident because I practice them enough. It is supposed to come natural.
O’Fallon coach Brian Muniz was glad to see Orr was the Panther that Jennings was forced to send to the line.
“That steal and those free throws were huge for us,” said Muniz, whose team is 12-5 in its first season under his direction. “Alex is a confident young man and he’s the guy we want on the line at the end of games.”
The loss was just the third of the season for Jennings (13-3), which came into contest ranked No. 6 in Class 4A by the Missouri Coaches Basketball Association.
“Everything we had done to get to 13-2, we did not do today,” said Warriors coach Travis Wallace, whose team had a six-game win streak snapped. “They did a good job of getting us out of our rhythm, making us play faster than we wanted, too.”
Orr’s 13 points led a balanced O’Fallon effort. Thomas and Burke Watts both finished with eight points. Jalen Hodge finished with seven.
Jennings’ Kyle Young Jr. topped all scorers with 14 points. Rajae Johnson had 10, all but two of them coming in the opening quarter.
O’Fallon’s Hodge and Deion Norfleet were both named to the all-tournament team, while Young, Johnson and Latrell Jones made it for Jennings.