Collinsville did everything it could Friday to contain the O’Fallon Panthers and senior Donovan Franklin. The Kahoks’ efforts were futile on both counts.
The 6-foot-5 Franklin scored a career-high 36 points and was 16-for-18 from the free-throw line as O’Fallon ripped the Kahoks 70-52 in a Southwestern Conference game.
“I feel like I played with good intensity,” said Franklin, who was 8-for-11 from the field with four 3-pointers on five attempts. “A lot of my shots were falling, so I just tried to have the same intensity I had on offense on defense. I was glad my team got the win.”
Franklin did most of his damage from the field in the first half, which ended with the Panthers ahead 32-18 despite Collinsville senior Anfirnee Wilkinson’s halfcourt shot at the buzzer.
Franklin had 19 points at the break on 7-for-9 shooting. Fourteen of his free throws came in the second half as the Panthers (14-6, 6-2 SWC) had no difficulty keeping the Kahoks (14-9, 3-5) at bay.
“I just came into the game trying to get a conference win,” said Franklin, who didn’t realize in the early stages of the game that it would be a special night. “It just happened that way.”
Senior Darien McClain added nine points, all in the second half, for the Panthers, who won for the seventh time in their last eight games. But clearly, Franklin was the show-stopper, completely at ease against a 2-3 zone and later a man-to-man.
“He got to the free-throw line a lot,” Panthers coach Rick Gibson said. “When they had to go man, he’s a tough matchup. We were able to spread the floor out and he had some room to create. When he’s got some room to create, they have to put some hands on him and he was able to get to the free-throw line, and he’s a great free-throw shooter.”
The unsigned Franklin is garnering a load of attention from Division I schools and still has five official visits he can take. Gibson said some college team will land a gem.
“He can score from everywhere,” Gibson said. “There’s not a whole lot of high-school kids who can score from everywhere. He’s got the size to be able to score down in the paint, he shoots it well, he rises up from 15. Tonight, I think he scored in all those different ways.”
That was all too clear to Collinsville coach Darin Lee. The Kahoks limited Franklin to 13 points in the Panthers’ 56-51 win Dec. 12 in O’Fallon, but Franklin nearly tripled that figure in the rematch.
“He’s playing well. He’s a tough matchup for us,” Lee said of Franklin. “We zoned them the first game and we were successful. We were not successful tonight. We played them man-to-man in the second half, and we weren’t a lot more successful with that.”
O’Fallon shot 50 percent from the floor (21-for-42) and had 11 turnovers. Led by Franklin, the Panthers were 22-for-24 from the free-throw line.
It was a disappointing setback for the Kahoks, who were on a six-game winning streak after taking down five opponents to claim the Jerseyville Tournament title last week. Collinsville, however, never scored more than four consecutive points Friday.
“We didn’t do a very good job offensively,” said Lee, whose team committed 15 turnovers and shot 41 percent (18-for-44). “When we got the ball where we wanted to our post players (seniors Emondre Rickman and Sean Davis), we didn’t get them in the basket. They just didn’t go down for us.
“It was a big game for us. We just didn’t play as well as we’d like. (The Panthers) are playing awfully well right now.”
Sophomore Ronnie Midgett came off the bench to lead the Kahoks with 18 points before fouling out with 1:33 to play. The 6-9 Rickman had 12 points, including a mammoth dunk early in the third quarter.
Midgett was 7-for-7 from the free-throw line. The Kahoks missed their first four attempts from the line, then made their final 13.
“(Midgett) gets his hands on a lot of basketballs and he can get to the rim,” Lee said. “He scored the basketball well at Jerseyville. It was a different level of competition, but baskets are baskets no matter who you’re playing. He’s a threat offensively, there’s no question.”
Collinsville got off to a slow start, falling behind 12-8 after one quarter and 28-12 after Franklin hit his third 3-pointer of the game with 2:05 left in the second quarter.
The Kahoks got within 43-31 late in the third quarter and 54-42 early in the fourth quarter, but O’Fallon scored the next six points to build its lead to 60-42 at the 5:17 mark.
“It started with our defense,” Gibson said. “We had talked about defense and how we had to have defensive intensity, and I thought we really did. We made some shots, but we missed a lot of shots, too. Our defense stayed solid even when we were missing shots. We were getting stops at the other end.”