Belleville East senior Javon Pickett talks regional win
Collinsville apparently got Belleville East’s attention.
The Kahoks, coming off a 10-point victory at East last Tuesday, couldn’t duplicate its performance Monday as they fell to the Lancers 78-48 in the Class 4A Belleville East Regional.
Senior Javon Pickett, an Illinois signee, helped extend his high-school career at least one more game as he pumped in a game-high 27 points for fifth-seeded East (16-12).
“We didn’t have as much energy (Tuesday) as we did today,” Pickett said of a 77-67 loss. “We didn’t fight hard at all. We let them get to the lane a lot more in the previous game, so today we just wanted to clog the middle. I feel like we had great energy throughout the game. We played as a team, we stopped them on defense and we made shots. That was the big difference.”
Senior Rico Sylvester added 17 points and junior Malachi Smith chipped in with 12 for the Lancers, who will meet third-seeded Belleville West (18-8) in the semifinals at 7 p.m. Wednesday. East defeated West two out of three games this season.
“Darin (Lee) had Collinsville playing really well,” East coach Abel Schrader said of his counterpart with the Kahoks. “They played better than us the last time we played them. I’m sure that gave our kids a little bit of extra motivation.”
The Kahoks, seeded ninth, finished 10-20.
“They played better defense and we didn’t shoot it as well,” Lee said. “There’s no doubt they played with a sense of urgency at home, the seniors. These guys have been starting three years, some of them. We knew that. We probably didn’t attack as well as we did last time.”
The Kahoks hung around for the first quarter, but the Lancers rolled to a 35-21 lead at the half as Pickett & Co. proved too much to handle.
The lead continued to grow into the fourth quarter when both teams emptied their benches.
“It’s going to be fun (playing West),” Pickett said. “We’re going to go out there and compete and do what we’ve got to do to get the win. They’re going to be ready to play. I know we’re going to be ready to play. We don’t want it to end.”
Seniors Kenrique Brown (17 points) and Austin Knight (11) were the only Collinsville players in double figures. Two other Kahoks will graduate, but freshmen Keydrian Jones, Aaron Molton and Ray’Sean Taylor will return, as will juniors Braeden Lemp, Bailey McGovern and others.
“We played three freshmen at different times,” Lee said. “We were the only team in the (Southwestern) conference to do that. But it’s hard to do that.
“We played really well the last three games until this one. We could have laid down and quit, but we got better. We put a scare into some pretty good teams.”