On a night when the Collinsville Kahoks were anything but flawless, they remained perfect for the season at the O’Fallon Panther Dome Friday.
Junior guard Ray-Sean Taylor scored five of his 23 points in a 58-second span midway through the fourth quarter to help thwart an O’Fallon comeback and the Kahoks broke away late for a 61-48 win in the Southwestern Conference opener for both teams.
Getting a pair of 3-point jumpers by sophomore Drew Tebbe, O’Fallon cut a 17-point deficit to 47-41 with 3 minutes 40 seconds remaining. But Taylor scored on consecutive trips down the floor and combined with Cawhan Smith to make two of four free throws to extend the lead to 53-41 with 2:43 left in the game.
O’Fallon (2-2) would get no closer as Collinsville, coming off a tournament championship at the Herrin Thanksgiving Classic last week, imrpoved to 6-0.
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The win also gives Collinsville coach Darin Lee early-season bragging rights. Lee’s nephew, Kyle Dismukes is a senior guard for O’Fallon. Dismukes led the way for the Panthers on Friday with 14 points. The 6-1 Dismukes also hit a long 3-point jumper right in front of his uncle in the second quarter.
“Yes, he did,’’ Darin Lee said after the game. “Kyle does a nice job. I’ll tell you, he plays hard.’’
While Dismukes led the Panthers, it was Taylor who was clearly the best player on the Panther Dome court. Showing his range early, Taylor his a pair of 3-point jumpers and scored seven points in the first quarter as Collinsville took a 16-12 lead.
The Kahoks would never trail.
“I thought we played well. We were up, I think 15 in the third quarter and they (O’Fallon) cut it to six. We can’t let up,’’ Taylor said. “Surprised to be 6-0?.... No, not really. We just have to come out and play hard every night. We’ve got something to prove this year.”
As does O’Fallon, which after opening 2-1 had its final game of the Alton Tip-off Classic canceled when a fight late in the game between Alton and RiverviewGardens resulted in officials pulling the plug on the rest of the tournament.
O’Fallon coach Brian Muniz, although disappointed with the final outcome, liked that his Panthers battled back and gave themselves a chance late in the game.
“We’re excited to see how these younger kids and older players on this team blend in together. So far we’ve played pretty well,’’ Muniz said. “Tonight we fell behind by 15-17 points and cut it to a two possession game when we got within six points. I was pleased with the effort.
“But then we fouled 80 feet from the basket where there was really no reason to. We thought that maybe we could foul them late in the game and they would miss some free throws. It didn’t happen.’’
Marshall Harrison added 14 points for Collinsville while Zane Baker added 10. Dismukes 14 points led O’Fallon, while 14 year-old freshman Caleb Burton chipped in with 11.
Dismukes hugged his uncle Darin Lee during the player introductions before the start of the game. The two then spoke briefly and shook hands after the game.
“It’s kind of neat to be playing against him (Lee) when he coaches,’’ Dismukes said.. “Really though, I just try to treat it like just another game.’’