Granite City has been closing the gap on Collinsville since the two teams first met during holiday tournament week in December.
The Warriors might have thought they finally caught Collinsville on their third attempt, when they opened a five-point, fourth-quarter lead.
But Brett Langley's three-point basket — Collinsville's 11th of the game — helped lift the Kahoks to a 69-66 Southwestern Conference victory Friday.
It also left Granite City (10-12) on the up side of a hill it's be climbing all season.
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
"We've been here before as far as playing people tight then coming up short," said Granite City coach Steve Roustio. “Having said that, there is no shame in what we did tonight. Our guys did what they needed to do to fight and compete. Our hurdle is that we need to learn how to finish."
For the Kahoks (15-9), the victory puts them back in the win column after since a hard loss to O'Fallon put an end to their six-game winning streak. They have six games remaining, five of which are with conference opponents.
"This wasn't a great game for us defensively, but we did what we had to do and came away with a good win," said Collinsville coach Darin Lee. "Granite City is a good team. They're going to win a conference game. I don't know who it will be, but right now I'm just glad it wasn't us."
Granite City entered the game having won five of its last six and with a 10-1 non-conference record.
Ronnie Midgett led the Kahoks with a game-high 20 points, including three three-point baskets and a perfect night at the free throw line. Anfirnee Wilkinson scored 14, including four from beyond the three-point arc.
"Midgett is a phenomenal player," Roustio said. "He didn't play against us last time and he most definitely made the difference. The bucket must have looked bigger to him tonight or something."
Collinsville sprinted out to a fast lead with five three-point baskets from three different players. A slam dunk by 6-foot-8 senior center Emondre Rickman put the Kahoks ahead by 29-17 barely three minutes into the second quarter.
But Granite City scored the next 11 points on jumpers by Traron Allen and Jake Roustio, and a stick-back bucket from Darrell Miller. Allen also hit a pair of free throws after Collinsville's Sean Davis was called for an intentional foul.
The points made it a 29-28 game with 40 seconds left in the half.
But, Anfirnee Wilkenson picked up a loose ball on a blocked shot and drained the Kahoks' sixth three-pointer of the half just ahead of the buzzer.
Routsio said his team was focused on guarding Collinsville big men, Rickman and Davis, and left too many open shots.
"The helper has got to help the help," he said. "In other words, if the somebody doesn't move to help the guy who left his man (to cover Collinsville's post players), they're going to leave somebody open to hit some threes. That's a tough concept for young players, but it hurt us tonight."
The third quarter was bucket-for-bucket until Granite City closed with an 8-0 run. Roustio and Kenny Berry took a page from the Collinsville playbook by hitting shots from three-point range. Roustio's was for the tie at the 1:23 mark of the third, and Berry's gave the Warriors their first lead of the night.
Davis came off the bench with four fouls to score six fourth-quarter points and Langley put Collinsville back in the lead with his three-pointer at the 2:40 mark.
"Davis made some big shots for us down the stretch," Lee said. "And we've got three guards who all played well and got some key shots to fall late."
A clutch three-point shot by Berry with 31 seconds left made it a one-point game. Darrell Miller got close to the basket with an attempt to give Granite City the lead with nine seconds left, but was blocked by Rickman.
In addition to Midgett and Wilkinson, Langley scored 10 points for Collinsville, Rickman had eight, Davis had seven, Harrison Wethers had four, Nic Gonet had three and Zach Flora scored two.
Five players reached double figures for Granite City including Miller and Deontonio Jennings who led with 14 each. Allen and Berry scored 13 each, Jake Roustio had 10, and Jalan Banks pitched in five.