Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

O'Fallon Girls Basketball Beats Breese Central

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

O'Fallon Girls Basketball Beats Breese Central

Article excerpt

HIGHLAND * O'Fallon High freshman Amelia Bell regularly looks to senior teammate Sydney Thurwalker for advice.

It was no different Saturday afternoon.

Bell handled herself on the court like a seasoned veteran in leading the Panthers to a 50-43 win over Breese Central in the championship game of the 32nd annual Highland Girls Basketball Tournament at Highland High.

It was minutes after her team-high 12-point, eight-rebound performance when Bell needed a little help.

She sought out some words of wisdom from the veteran Thurwalker before engaging in her first post-game interview.

"She told me not to be nervous, but I still am," Bell admitted.

On the court, Bell was calm, cool and collected when it mattered most.

"Every game it's someone new for us and today was her day," Thurwalker said. "She was amazing."

So was Thurwalker, who was selected as tournament MVP after averaging 12 points during the four-game, week-long 16-team affair.

But Bell, who began the season on the freshman team, came up big at the perfect time.

"We don't really have a go-to (player)," O'Fallon first-year coach Nick Knolhoff said. "Any given night, any girl can step up. Tonight, she was the one that came through."

The Panthers (20-2) won their seventh game in a row and captured their second major tournament title in 23 days. They won the Mascoutah Tournament crown in late December and improved to a perfect 12-0 in tourney play this season after winning four in a row in their own round-robin affair during Thanksgiving.

Bell, who does not start, came up with back-to-back baskets in the first 93 seconds of the fourth quarter to hold off a late charge by the Cougars (19-3), who had an eight-game winning streak snapped.

The 6-foot Bell also tallied five points in a first-quarter burst that helped the Panthers to a 16-7 lead they would never relinquish.

"I know my role and I just try to do what my coaches and my teammates need me to do," Bell said. …

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