Granite City withstood one heartbreak against the Collinsville Kahoks, but the Warriors refused to let it happen again.
Senior Kenny Berry scored on a putback of a missed 3-pointer by junior Jake Roustio with three seconds to play Tuesday, lifting the Warriors to a 48-46 victory in a Southwestern Conference game.
Berry’s shot provided retribution for Granite City, which lost to Collinsville 66-64 in overtime last week when senior Tommy Maden dropped in a 3-pointer at the buzzer in the Collinsville-Prairie Farms Holiday Classic.
“It’s a big game. It’s a revenge game,” said Berry, who scored a game-high 27 points. “We came to fight at the end. We really didn’t step up in the first half, but we came together when it counts.”
The Warriors, who trailed 43-35 midway through the fourth quarter, improved to 8-5 overall and 3-2 in the SWC. Collinsville fell to 5-7 and 1-4.
Senior Tra’Ron Allen scored on two consecutive putbacks to bring the Warriors into a 46-46 tie with 1:21 to play. After a Collinsville turnover, Granite City called timeout and held the ball until Roustio fired a 3-pointer from the left side.
The shot rimmed out, but Berry grabbed the rebound and scored. Granite City fans spilled onto the court, but they were cleared away and three seconds remained on the clock.
It’s a big game. It’s a revenge game. We came to fight at the end. We really didn’t step up in the first half, but we came together when it counts.
Granite City senior Kenny Berry
After a Collinsville timeout, senior Ronnie Midgett was unable to attempt a shot from just inside midcourt while being covered by two defenders.
The Kahoks hurt themselves with 20 turnovers. They also missed five free throws in the fourth quarter to aid the Warriors’ comeback.
“When Zach Flora fouled out, that took us away from a lot of things, (like) guarding Tra Allen,” Collinsville coach Darin Lee said of his 6-foot-4 senior, who committed his fifth foul with 2:54 left. “That was a killer for us.
“But we missed some layups and some free throws. We had it won, but we gave it away with missed layups and missed free throws. We could have put them away earlier. That’s disappointing. We were the better team for 3 1/2 quarters and we certainly could have put the game away, but we didn’t get it done.”
Allen also reached double figures with 11 points. Sophomore Jake Hall led the Kahoks with 13 points, while junior Sam Webb had 10. Midgett was limited to nine points, all of them coming in the second half, and Flora had eight.
Granite City had just eight turnovers.
Berry finished 11-for-22 from the field and was around the ball every time the Warriors were in need of a clutch play.
We didn’t have anybody to get a defensive rebound at the end. I figured we could get them to miss a shot, but I really questioned whether we could get the defensive rebound.
Collinsville coach Darin Lee
“Kenny Berry played from start to finish. That’s incredible,” Granite City coach Steve Roustio said. “We didn’t play very well tonight, other than just at the end. From start to finish, other than Kenny Berry, did everybody just play an outstanding game. (Berry) is by far the best player Granite’s had in the last eight years. He’s put in a ton of time.”
Lee wasn’t surprised to see Berry come through.
“He’s a very good player,” he said. “We didn’t have anybody to get a defensive rebound at the end. I figured we could get them to miss a shot, but I really questioned whether we could get the defensive rebound.”
Roustio said both games between the teams probably should have gone the other way.
“I’m not so sure, based on the game went last time, that we didn’t deserve to win, and based on the way the game went this time, that they didn’t deserve to win,” he said. “At least that’s how it feels. It’s going to make for an exciting rubber match at their place.
“This was a pretty cool environment tonight, their kids and our kids.”
Defense the key
Collinsville led 24-19 at halftime despite being charged with 11 turnovers and receiving no points from Midgett, their leading scorer. Hall had seven points at the half, and the Kahoks capitalized on four 3-pointers.
Flora’s free throw put the Kahoks ahead 43-35 with 4:13 to play, but Granite City finished with 13-3 run to eke out the win.
“Our defense stepped up,” Berry said. “That’s the key to us winning. That’s what’s going to get us past any team in the conference, even with how tough it is.
“Our offense wasn’t clicking like it usually is, so we have to find other ways to put the ball in the hole. I just happened to follow (Jake Roustio’s) shot, even though it looked good.”