High School Sports

Have the Collinsville Kahoks been snubbed in state basketball polls? O’Fallon thinks so.

Collinsville’s Dezlandini scores at first-half buzzer

Collinsville Kahoks Lorent Dezlandini scores at the first half buzzer in win over O'Fallon.
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Collinsville Kahoks Lorent Dezlandini scores at the first half buzzer in win over O'Fallon.

In the latest edition of the Associated Press Class 4A boys basketball rankings, the Collinsville Kahoks earned all of two points.

That’s despite owning an 18-3 record.

Make that 19-3, following their 68-35 demolition of the O’Fallon Panthers on Friday night at Virgil Fletcher Gymnasium.

“They should,” said O’Fallon coach Brian Muniz, asked if he thought the Kahoks deserved more state-wide recognition.

“They came so close to winning their own tournament,” Muniz added. “Our conference has four teams that are just fantastic. Any of them can compete with anybody in the state.”

The victory was the sixth in a row for the Kahoks. Their last loss was 65-62 to Springfield Southeast in the title game of their own Collinsville Holiday Classic back in late December.

Southeast was ranked No. 3 in Class 3A in the latest AP poll.

The Kahoks’ other losses came against East St. Louis, which sat at No. 4 in Class 3A, and Alton, whose 14-8 record is skewed by suspensions related to the brawl which took place early in the season.

“All three teams that beat us, we had down in the fourth quarter,” said veteran Kahoks coach Darin Lee., whose team is 4-2 in Southwestern Conference play. “But outside of Southeast, we’ve got all of those teams to play again. We just need to get the job done when we see them again on our home floor.”

Although the final 7 minutes and 42 seconds was played using a running clock, O’Fallon actually owned the upper hand much of the first quarter. A 3-pointer from Shaun Riley II, in fact, had the Panthers up 14-10 with 2:18 left in the quarter.

But how quickly it changed.

Collinsville scored the final seven points of that quarter, and then followed it with an 18-4 eruption in the second to break it open.

The play which seemed to set the tone came in the waning seconds of the first period.

O’Fallon’s Drew Tebbe missed a long 3 and the ball wound up in the hands of Kahoks star sophomore guard Ray’Sean Taylor, who found junior point guard Cawhan Smith streaking down the court for a layup just as the buzzer sounded.

“Rey’Sean had caught the ball, and I ran down and caught it for a wide-open layup,” said Smith. “An easy bucket. We always play to the buzzer. No matter what happens or the score of the game.”

Cawhan Smith and Ray'Sean Taylor talk about the Collinsville Kahoks win over the O'Fallon Panthers and the need to stay focused through a tough conference schedule.

Marshall Harrison and Taylor both had five points in the second-quarter outburst.

Taylor finished the game with a game-high 23 points, and did the bulk of his damage in the second half when he scored 13.

“He (Smith) helped turn up the defense and I got some run outs,” said Smith, who hit his final five shots of the game. “After that, I started knocking threes down. We can do a lot with our defensive pressure.”

That defensive pressure helped force the Panthers into 17 turnovers, compared to just six for Collinsville.

“You can’t have a turnover ratio like that,” said Muniz, whose team dropped to 7-13 and 4-5 in the SWC. “They put so much pressure on you, and they’re physical. Our guys have got to just get used to that and more physical themselves.”

Lee believes when his team steps it up on the defensive end, it can compete with anyone.

“We took some things away in that second quarter we worked on in practice this week,” said Lee. “We’ve got to defend against team like O’Fallon and we’ve got to defend against some teams in our conference who have superstar players.

“Our man-to-man continues be good, and actually we need to work it on it even more so we can be better.”

Harrison finished with 16 points for the Kahoks, while Smith had 12.

Riley led O’Fallon with 10 points.

The Kahoks are in action again Saturday with a non-conference game at Civic Memorial. O’Fallon is off until next Friday when it hosts defending Class 4A state champion Belleville West at the annual Bank of O’Fallon Shootout.

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