O'FALLON – Edwardsville's boys basketballers broke open a tight game with a 28-point final quarter as the Tigers went on to post a 71-59 Southwestern Conference win over O'Fallon at the Panther Dome Friday night; the Tigers, coming off a sixth-place finish in last week's Collinsville-Prairie Farms Holiday Classic, improved to 10-3 overall, 5-1 in the SWC, while the Panthers fell to 6-7 overall, 2-4 in the league.

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“I thought we did a lot of things well tonight,” said Tiger coach Mike Waldo, “but we had to because I thought O'Fallon played a really good game. I thought they shot the ball well and I thought they did a lot of things really well; we had to play well to win and I thought we did a good job of executing the offense and playing defense even when we were behind.

“We did a good job of maintaining both ends of the floor; I thought we passed the ball well in the fourth quarter and when they had to come and get us, we did a good job of playing against a trapping defense – we made some good plays against that and we did a good job of our spacing and passing the ball.”

The game started out fairly evenly; the Panthers made a bit of run that gave them an early lead, but the Tigers responded by staying close, EHS holding a 13-11 lead at quarter time. The Panthers responded to that by taking the lead back in the second period and went into the long break holding a 28-24 lead on the Tigers.

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Edwardsville got the lead back in the third period and pulled away in the final quarter, thanks in part to some key baskets down the stretch from R.J. Wilson which proved crucial. “I thought R.J. did a lot of things good on offense and defense,” Waldo said. “He's a really good athlete and he tries hard.”

Jack Marinko led the way for the Tigers with a 34-point night, 25 of which came in the second half. “I think Jack does a good job of playing hard the whole game and letting the game come to him the whole game,” Waldo said. “I thought he did a great job creating shots for us and in the second half, he was able to score some for himself.”

Caleb Strohmeier added 16 points for EHS on the night, with Wilson scoring nine and Malik Robinson eight. Ronnie Anthony led the Panthers with 21 points, with Jalen Hodge adding 15 and Nick Boone 12 for OTHS.

The Tigers have a quick turnaround into their next game; it comes at 11:30 a.m. today against Kansas City Rockhurst in the second game of the Highland Optimist Shootout at Highland before hosting Alton at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 12 in the nightcap of a SWC boys-girls Mega Night doubleheader at Lucco-Jackson Gym.

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