COLLINSVILLE — Basketball coaches strive for balanced scoring, but Belleville West was more than happy for an Imani Berry offensive explosion on Thursday.
Berry, a sophomore, tossed in 23 points, racking up as many as the entire Collinsville Kahoks' team in Belleville West's 45-23 Southwestern Conference win.
Her point total also was one more than the rest of her teammates combined.
"Imani did a great job getting to the goal for us, the first half she was basically unstoppable," West coach Clayton Fisher said after his team improved to 12-5 overall and 6-1 in conference play with its third straight victory. "I would like more balance. I think we should have three girls toward double figures every night and we'll get there."
The Maroons typically do, but Shay Fluker scored six of her nine points in the first quarter and had a tough shooting night while Jesheon Cooper got into early foul trouble.
Berry and Fluker scored the first 16 points for West, quickly putting the Kahoks (5-9, 3-5) in a huge hole. The pair combined for 21 of the Maroons' 23 points on the way to a 23-10 halftime lead.
Fisher was especially proud of the Maroons' defense, which helped force 32 turnovers. Collinsville had 22 turnovers at halftime, but did play much better in the second half time as its zone defense caused problems for West.
"Our girls always play hard, but tonight I thought they played disciplined where they weren't reaching and hacking as much," Fisher said. "Early in the year we'd have had Collinsville shooting 50 free throws, where now we're guarding hard but we're not slapping.
"We're just playing good position defense and I thought the girls did a great job with it."
It was the seventh straight loss for the Kahoks, whose brutal week included a 77-28 SWC to state power Edwardsville on Tuesday.
Samantha Buettner and Karla Halde had six points apiece for Collinsville, which trailed 12-4 after one quarter and never recovered.
"We had Mater Dei right before break, then we came out and had Belleville East, Edwardsville and now Belleville West," Collinsville coach Lori Billy said. "We've hit a string of some pretty tough competition and pressure defense and we're trying to grow."
The Kahoks didn't find much space Tuesday against the aggressive, swarming defense of the Maroons.
Collinsville was held to just six shots in each of the first two quarters.
"It really did, we kind of lost our brains," Billy said. "We just lost focus. We're young, we're learning and we try to take these as lessons and grow from them."
Contact reporter Norm Sanders at email@example.com or 239-2454.