Harrison scores 15 points, Taylor 11 as Kahoks defeat Tigers 49-36
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EDWARDSVILLE - The Collinsville Kahoks, fueled by a second quarter 10-0 run and a 6-0 run at the start of the second half, got 15 points from Marshall Harrison and 11 from Ray’Sean Taylor to defeat Edwardsville 49-36 in a Southwestern Conference basketball game Tuesday night at Edwardsville’s Lucco-Jackson Gym.
It was a kind of a grind it out, somewhat scrappy game where both teams played hard, but it was the two runs by the Kahoks that made the difference in the game.
“Collinsville’s really good,” said Tigers’ coach Dustin Battas, “and they are physical, they played well. We’re really proud of our guys. We fought for every rebound, we guarded (Taylor) good, we really executed our game plan well, and managed the game well; we had a little foul trouble, and managed the game. We are not down or discouraged, and I’m not sure I’ve ever been around a group of guys that’s tried harder than these guys.”
That effort goes back to the Tigers’ practice sessions, where the team works hard to prepare for every game. That hard work has become an Edwardsville trademark.
“It’s amazing, it’s amazing,” Battas said. “They practice every day with their mind on doing what’s best for the team, and at this point in the season, to still be coming to practice every day, selflessly, working hard, and being coachable is all a coach could ask for. Like I said, I’ve never been around a group of guys that practice better and try harder than these guys.”
The Tigers have three more opportunities to win a game in the always-tough Southwestern Conference, and Battas is excited for the chances.
“Yeah, our conference is really good,” Battas said, “we know that. Any conference win is a hard one, and we’re excited to have three more chances, and we’re excited to have a couple of home games in there, too, and we’re just going to keep practicing; right now, we’ve got our mind on Alton on Friday.”
The Kahoks knew that it was going to be a tough game at Edwardsville, and Collinsville coach Darin Lee was very happy to come out with the win.
“Yeah, of course I was,” Lee said. “Anytime you’re at Edwardsville, they’ve always been hard to beat here, and they made some shots in the first half that they needed to make, they knocked them down, and we lost a couple of guys, and they made us pay. They did a lot of things right, but any game in our conference is not an easy thing.”
Play got physical at times, but the Kahoks were able to grind out the win.
“Yeah, we did,” Lee said. “I thought we grinded, hung in there, and grinded out a victory.”
Lee gave credit to the Tigers for their efforts.
“Coach Battas is doing a good job,” Lee said, “and they’re doing a lot of things well, some of the things they’ve always ran. They caught us on a player screen, I think, twice, and they got baskets. So, give them credit for that.”
Lee praised Harrison for having a very good game, as well.
“Yeah, he did,” Lee said. “Marshall can score, he can finish and score around the basket, and he can get on the offensive glass, and he can do a lot of things, and those were some of the things he did for us.”
At 25-3 for the season, Lee is very happy with how things are standing for his club right now.
“I’m glad we won,” Lee said with a smile. “We haven’t lost a game in 2019, absolutely, I couldn’t ask for anything more than that. We’ve grinded out some victories, we’ve won at West, we’ve beat Alton at home. We do a lot of things well.”
The game started out with both teams trading baskets before Zane Baker hit the first three of the evening from the baseline to put the Kahoks ahead 7-6. After a Taylor basket, Malik Robinson hit a three ball on the side to tie the game at 9-9, then Jaylon Tuggle hit a three to give the Tigers a 12-9 lead. Collinsville then went on a 10-0 run, starting near the end of the period with a basket from Aaron Molton that cut the Edwardsville lead to 12-11 after one.
The Kahoks continued that momentum into the start of the second quarter, with a pair of Taylor free throws and back-to-back three-point plays from Lorent Dzeladini and Cawhan Smith to give Collinsville a 19-12 lead. After an exchange of points, Brennan Weller drilled a three, and a Robinson three on the side right before the buzzer cut the Collinsville lead to 23-20 at halftime.
The 10-0 run for the Kahoks was very important in the course of the game.
“That was big,” Lee said. “We put a little run there, and if they don’t get that shot there at the end of the half, that hurts. But we made a little run there, and if they stayed ahead of us, they could have really made life difficult for us.”
The Kahoks opened the second half with a 6-0 run via baskets from Harrison, Taylor and Keynesian Jones to open a 29-20 lead, but a Tuggle basket and a three from Weller on the baseline cut the lead to 29-25. A three-point play from Harrison brought the lead back to seven, and a Tuggle free throw and basket cut the lead to 32-28. The teams then exchanged baskets with Collinsville leading 36-30 after three.
The two teams exchanged baskets to start the final quarter, but the Kahoks began to pull away from the free throw line, hitting seven-for-12 to help keep Edwardsville at bay. The free throws helped make the 49-36 final in favor of Collinsville.
Weller led the Tigers with 11 points, while Tuggle added 10 for Edwardsville.
The Kahoks final three games of the regular season are all in the conference, starting with a home date against Belleville West, whom Collinsville defeated on the road Feb. 5 58-56, then play at Belleville East Feb. 19 before finishing at home Feb. 22 against East St. Louis. Lee does feel that things are looking up for his team.
“Yeah, things are going quite well; we’ve got three conference games left. We’ve got to think we can control our own destiny, but we know they’re very difficult games.”
The Tigers confidence was showing from the start, and it all starts in practice.
“I do think that our guys are starting to really believe in themselves,” Battas said. “It’s been a tough season, but I think they’ve seen individual improvement. We’ve been doing a lot of skill work in practice, and I think we really know how were going to play now, with the guys that are going to play. And so, I think the confidence has come from their preparation, but also their confidence in each other. They’re just really positive, they really support each other, and they really like being around each other. Really proud of the guys.”
And Battas feels that the Kahoks are among the best teams the Tigers have played all season.
“They’re right up there with the best,” Battas said. “We’ve played Belleville West twice, we’ve played East St. Louis three times, we’ve played Springfield Southeast, we’ve played Collinsville, we’ve played Alton, we’ve played Ladue, who’s doing great over in St. Louis. So I feel like we may be the experts on who is really good,” Battas said with a smile and laugh, “and they’re really good. They’re the whole package, they play well together, it seems like they have big guys, and they are, I would put them in the upper echelon teams. I told coach (Lee) there before the game that I think you could make an argument for them, Alton, Belleville West, East St. Louis, they’re all Elite Eight, Final Four-type teams in our state.
The Tigers, now 6-18, have three conference games left as well, starting with a home date Friday against Alton, then the home finale against O’Fallon on Feb. 19, and the final game of the regular season Feb. 22 at Belleville East. There’s not only the goal of getting a win in the SWC, but also starting to build momentum for the IHSA Class 4A playoffs, which begins Feb. 25.
“Yeah, I do think we’re playing our best basketball now,” Battas said. “We’ve had a good chance to win the last few games, beating Mascoutah, who’s going to win 20 games, on Friday, lost to Soldan on Tuesday, another team in St. Louis that’s ranked. So we are playing our best basketball. And we’re not down. I think we’re hurt that we didn’t win tonight, because we believe we can. Our guys know that we want to play our best basketball for the postseason. So we hope to get some momentum here these last three games, and head into the regional, and we really pride ourselves in being ready for postseason.”
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