COLLINSVILLE — Given a challenge by first-year coach Tony Young, East St. Louis senior Johnny McCray answered Friday at Vergil Fletcher Gymnasium.
A 6-foot, 4-inch forward, McCray dominated an overmatched Collinsville front line with a career-high 29 points as the Flyers ran past Collinsville 76-60 in a Southwestern Conference game.
"Coach challenged us tonight to come out and play hard. We had a team meeting and he asked me to step up tonight,'' McCray said. "We just had to come out and execute the way we know we can.''
Gaining more confidence in his role as the Flyers' point guard with each game, DeShawn Munson put up his sixth straight triple-double with 16 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds for East St. Louis.
The Flyers took control of the game with a 23-2 scoring run, which covered the final two minutes of the first half and first three minutes of the third quarter.
The win is the 10th straight for East St. Louis, which improved to 14-6 after losing six of its first 10 games under Young.
"We don't want to look at the fact that we've won 10 in a row. The way I look at is 'who's next?,'" Young said. "We just have to prepare and be ready to give 100 percent every time we take the floor."
"Because the night you give 70 or 80 percent is the night it's going to end.''
Senior Daniel Williams added 16 points for East St. Louis, while Travon McCray added 11.
Collinsville (9-13, 1-8) got 29 points from senior Falando Wilkinson. But coach Darin Lee's squad, which led 19-18 late in the first half, couldn't handle the athletic Flyers over the long haul.
"We just couldn't get the ball up the court, which is disappointing because I thought we had a better handle on it. We couldn't get the ball back in Falando's hands,'' Lee said. "I didn't think we did a very good job of guarding either. But they are a good team with good players.''
Wilkinson canned three free throws to give Collinsville a 19-18 lead with 2:15 left in the first half, but when Travon McCray scored on a layup and followed seconds later with a 3-pointer, the Flyers were up and running with a 23-19 advantage.
Johnny McCray scored on a pair of inside moves and 6-5 senior Antonio Stewart scored three points inside as the Flyers' lead reached 31-21 by halftime.
Johnny McCray led the way with 12 first-half points.
"I challenged Johnny before game,'' Young said. "In my mind, Johnny is the most underrated post player in the conference. When he plays up to his potential, I feel he's one of the best. We just need him to play to his potential on a more consistent basis.''
Kahoks turnovers on their first five possessions led to six points by Williams and a basket apiece from Munson and Johnny McCray as East St. Louis' lead ballooned to 41-21 with five minutes still left in the third period.
"Our defense keyed the run in the first three minutes of the second half,'' Young said. "It just goes to show you when you put pressure on the ball, rotate properly and execute off turnovers like we did that good things can happen.''
Collinsville would get no closer than 11 points the rest of the game.