West squanders 14-point lead, falls to Collinsville in regional

News-DemocratMarch 4, 2014 

— This time around, Collinsville junior Emondre Rickman wasn't the offensive factor he was in the Kahoks' most recent meeting against Belleville West.

But the 6-foot-8 Rickman made plenty of contributions at the defensive end Tuesday as the fourth-seeded Kahoks staged a fourth-quarter rally that lifted them to a 45-43 win over the fifth-seeded Maroons in the Class 4A Belleville West Regional.

Rickman had seven blocked shots, one in the closing seconds, as Collinsville (13-16) advanced to the semifinals, where it will face top-seeded O'Fallon (15-12) at 6 p.m. Wednesday.

"We're going to come ready to play," Kahoks coach Darin Lee said. "We know it's going to be tough for us; we've got to play back-to-back. But we're going to battle them."

Collinsville was 0-2 against the Panthers this season.

Junior Nic Gonet led the Kahoks with 14 points against West (6-20). Gonet's free throw with 7.8 seconds to play put Collinsville ahead 45-43. Rickman blocked senior Steven Roberts' short jumper, but the ball went to senior Jalen Foster, who fired a 3-pointer from the left wing that caromed off the back iron as time expired.

"What a tough spot to put a kid in," Maroons coach Joe Muniz, who replaced fouled-out junior Demond White with Foster with 7.8 seconds left. "He goes and gets an offensive rebound after that blocked shot. It puts him in a position to win the game. ... It looked good when he shot it. It just didn't go in."

West, which lost to Collinsville for the third time this season, played zone against the Kahoks, rotating 6-5 freshman Tyler Dancy and 6-1 senior Brian Hill on Rickman and getting help from another player.

In the previous game against Collinsville, won by the Kahoks 66-59 on Feb. 21 in Belleville, West played man-to-man and Rickman scored 19 points and was 8-for-11 from the field. He had just five points Tuesday on 2-for-6 shooting.

"He's 6-8 and athletic --and he's got a wing span of a 740," Muniz said. "I don't what that kid's going to be like next year. You can win a lot of ballgames with a big man like that in the middle, and I'm sure Collinsville will next year. He's a guy that definitely alters the game on the defensive end."

Gonet's performance was his best of the season, as he took advantage of the openings in the Maroons' zone by hitting two of Collinsville's five 3-pointers. Gonet also was 6-for-7 from the free-throw line.

"I felt good out there," Gonet said. "I was just taking good shots instead of trying to force them. They were going in for me, so it felt good. I've been off most of the year, but I'm starting to get my game back and I'm starting to feel it."

Junior Anfirnee Wilkinson added 11 points for the Kahoks. The Maroons were led by senior Eugene Jones' 12 points and Roberts' 10.

Collinsville shot 15-for-35 (43 percent) and had 12 turnovers. The Kahoks were 10-for-18 from the free-throw line.

"We thought they might zone us," Lee said. "We had that in the back of our mind because they hadn't been able to guard us man. We kind of got some things late and kind of broke through."

The Maroons finished 13-for-35 (37 percent) with 13 turnovers. West was 15-for-20 from the line.

West led 35-21 on Roberts' driving layup with 3:32 left in the third quarter. The Kahoks went on a 14-2 run to get within 37-35 with 5:07 to play, and after a Maroons turnover, senior Jacob Shaffer scored on a layup to give Collinsville its first lead at 42-41 with 1:12 remaining in the game.

Gonet's two free throws made it 44-41, and after both teams missed two free throws, West called timeout with 14.9 seconds left.

Senior Cade Dibadj missed a 3-pointer, but Wilkinson fouled White on the rebound and White made two free throws to bring the Maroons within 44-43 with 8.7 seconds left.

Gonet made one of two free throws with 7.8 seconds to play. Collinsville called timeout to set up its defense, and Rickman followed with his key block of Roberts and Foster's 3 was off the mark.

Dancy picked up his third foul early in the third quarter. Muniz sent Hill to the scorer's table to check in for Dancy, but play began before Hill could enter the game and Dancy immediately recorded his fourth foul. He fouled out with 5:17 to play in the game.

"That was a huge deal," Muniz said. "The call happened so quick. (Dancy's) got to learn. (But) we were slow getting to the bench."

Contact reporter David Wilhelm at dwilhelm@bnd.com or 239-2665.

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