Boys Basketball

Tourney champions: Bench spurs Panthers to convincing win

Looking to the bench for help Saturday, the O’Fallon Panthers found it in seniors Caleb Wegner and Parker Roustio.

Wegner drained five 3-pointers and scored a career-high 21 points and Roustio contributed 15 points as O’Fallon routed Liberty North 72-32 to win the championship at the Kirkwood (Mo.) Denver Miller Classic tournament.

The suddenly hot Wegner collected 19 of those 21 points in the first half.

“The basket looked like a hula-hoop to him today,” O’Fallon coach Rick Gibson said of Wegner, who had scored 59 points all season before the championship game. “Our bench was impressive today. They all can score and today they got some looks — and we needed them. Once those guys get their confidence they’re capable of doing that.

“We see it in practice a lot, but not in games and today we really liked seeing it it in a game.”

The hot-shooting performance included a season-best 12 3-pointers by the Panthers (13-5) as they won their sixth straight game and 10th in the last 11.

Liberty North (9-5) knocked off highly regarded St. Louis power McCluer North in the semifinals to reach the championship and is coming off back-to-back final four appearances at the Missouri state tournament. The school is located near Kansas City, Mo.

“We played a complete game and we played well,” said Gibson, whose team stretched an eight-point lead after one quarter to a whopping 26 by halftime by outscoring Liberty North 25-7 in the second quarter. “People will look at the score and think they weren’t very good, but they knocked off Kirkwood and McCluer North and they’ve got a big 6-8 kid in the post (Michael Hughes) that’s been offered by Missouri and several other schools.

“We just took them out of things early and played really well.”

Hughes was limited to only nine points.

The call to the bench was necessitated by starters Alex Orr and Chance Armstrong each picking up two early fouls. Bradley Harrison joined Wegner and Roustio in giving the Panthers a spark that carried them throughout.

O’Fallon senior Division I recruit Donovan Franklin, who combined for 51 points in the Panthers’ two previous wins, finished with a season-low eight points. Armstrong also had eight and Darien McClain added six.

Franklin, Wegner and McClain were named to the all-tournament team.