This time around, it was Collinsville on the emotionally high side of a tight game against Southwestern Conference rival East St. Louis.
Sophomore Ray’Sean Taylor made two of three free throws with no time left on the clock Friday to give the Kahoks a 68-67 victory over the Flyers in the quarterfinals of the Collinsville-Prairie Farms Holiday Classic.
Taylor was fouled by sophomore Jashawn Anderson while taking a 3-pointer after senior Joe Reece’s two free throws had given the Flyers a 67-66 with 5.9 seconds left.
“It was easy for me because we shoot a lot of free throws in practice,” said Taylor, who finished with 15 points. “When I got to the line, I wasn’t nervous.”
Taylor made his first free throw, then missed the second. With a large crowd buzzing with excitement, Taylor calmly sank his third attempt, setting off a Kahoks celebration.
“The second one was in and out, so I was like, ‘I can hit the next one,’” Taylor said. “It was fun to get them back, basically the same way they got us. It was a fun game.”
On Dec. 5, East St. Louis defeated host Collinsville 65-64 on a late 3-pointer by junior Traeveion Jones. Turning the page on that loss was sweet for the Kahoks (7-5).
“The first one (against East St. Louis), we thought we had (a win). That one, they thought they had one,” Collinsville coach Darin Lee said. “It’s nice to come through with a close win. We haven’t had many breaks at the end of games, actually, for the last couple of years. It’s been amazing. We finally got something good to happen for us at the end of a game, and that was nice. ... I’m happy for the kids.”
Keydrian Jones, a 6-foot-5 sophomore, had 21 points and 11 rebounds for the Kahoks. Senior Braeden Lemp and junior Marshall Harrison had 10 points apiece.
After the foul, two of the officials conferred, apparently to determine whether any time should be put on the clock before Taylor’s foul shots. None was.
“The kid drew the contact,” East St. Louis coach Fernando Stevenson said of Taylor. “I wasn’t a big fan of the call, obviously. There was the deliberation between the two officials. I didn’t know what that was about. But they got three free throws with no time on the clock.”
Junior Terrence Hargrove Jr. had 18 points and 12 rebounds for the Flyers — his second double-double of the tournament. Reece had 16 points and nine rebounds and Anderson finished with 16 points and four assists. East Side (6-5) made just 3 of 18 3-pointers.
“It was a tough game, a tough loss,” Stevenson said. “Collinsville’s a scrappy team. They’re well-coached and they’re disciplined. Our guys made some plays down the stretch that were not as disciplined as I’d like to see. Hats off to Collinsville. They knocked down their free throws. They didn’t get rattled when we made our runs.”
Lee is encouraged by the continued development of Jones, who was 8 of 11 from the field while being defended by the 6-8 Reece and the 6-7 Hargrove.
“Keydrian Jones is such a hard worker,” Lee said. “He practices hard, he plays hard. He never takes a possession off, and that makes a difference. He keeps getting better.”