O’Fallon scored a paltry 22 second-half points Saturday, but there was nothing wrong with the Panthers’ timing.
The Panthers saw a 17-point third-quarter lead melt to just two late in the fourth quarter, but four players teamed up on a 7-0 run over the final 2:44 in a 58-49 victory over Carnahan in the fifth-place game of the Alton Tip-Off Classic.
“We started off well and got the lead. “We were feeling pretty confident,” said O’Fallon senior Jalen Hodge, who led the Panthers with 18 points. “(But) some of the guys got trigger-happy toward the end and started jacking up shots off the first pass, off the second pass. That kind of got us out of our rhythm.
“We tried to bring it in at the end and get tougher.”
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O’Fallon (2-2) led 37-20 when Hodge hit a free throw to open the second half. But Carnahan closed within 51-49 on two free throws by senior Marquis Hayes with 3:20 left.
Senior Ronnie Anthony, however, scored in the lane, Hodge made two free throws, senior Teron Bowman II added two more foul shots and senior Garrett Herring made one to seal the outcome. Herring also had a key blocked shot down the stretch.
“They had a matchup zone that pretty much just made you play basketball,” Panthers coach Brian Muniz said. “We didn’t move. We didn’t do good offensive things to beat it. We were standing around too much against it.
“The first half, we hit some shots. The second half, we didn’t hit the shots. All of a sudden, we’re kind of scrambling on how to score. Our shots weren’t going down and our confidence went down a little bit. We didn’t do good offensive things to beat that zone.”
Muniz was encouraged this his team dug deep enough to finish on a high.
“We needed to answer,” he said. “Our guys that have played before had to answer. We made some plays. When the chips are down and things aren’t going your way, you’re glad your team can answer those things.”
Bowman finished with 11 points for O’Fallon, nine of them in the first half. Anthony also had 11 points and senior Robert Hayes had eight before leaving the game in the fourth quarter with what appeared to be a shoulder injury.
Senior Aaron Brookins led all scorers with 22 points for Carnahan (2-3).
O’Fallon’s next game will be against Collinsville on Saturday at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville in a Southwestern Conference game.
“We’ve got a long way to go. We know we’ve got to get better to play our league,” Muniz said. “But I’m excited we did get better game by game (in this tournament). That’s our goal. Saturday when we play Collinsville, we’re going to hopefully get better then, too.”
Althoff 63, Riverview Gardens 53
The Crusaders (1-3) earned seventh place in the tournament by downing the Rams.
Althoff led 12-7 after one quarter, 33-21 at halftime and 46-33 after three quarters and never were threatened.
Sophomore Patrick Readye led all scorers with 14 points. Sophomore Greg Wells scored 13 points, junior Khalifah Muhammad had 12 and freshman Ethyn Brown had 10.
“It’s a learning process for the guys this year,” Althoff coach Greg Leib said. “They battled through it. They could have easily laid down after all we’ve gone through. They came out there and competed today and we’re pleased with it. We still have a lot of work (to do) and this tournament helped us see what we need to get better at.”
Riverview Gardens fell to 0-4.
Althoff, without the star power of the last three seasons, will use an abundance of underclass players, many of them untested at the varsity level.
“They all ride bikes to school,” Leib said. “We’ve got to get a new bike rack because the one we have now is full. It’s still a lot of fun. It beats getting up and having to go to work. We’ve got some great kids.”