While rainbows are extremely rare on snowy days in February, they could be seen in abundance Tuesday inside Edwardsville’s Lucco-Jackson Gymnasium.
They were created by the high, arching shots of Collinsville sophomore Ronnie Midgett, who sank a long one while falling backward with 0.6 seconds remaining to give the Kahoks a 40-37 Southwestern Conference win over Edwardsville.
It was the fifth 3-pointer of the night for Midgett, who finished with 17 points.
“He’s a gamer,” Collinsville coach Darin Lee said of his sophomore guard. “The basket gets big for him; he throws those rainbows up in the air and they just drop in. He’s always been a very, very good shooter. A streaky shooter, but right now he’s on a pretty good streak for us.”
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Midgett provided plenty of evidence for that Tuesday night.
After the Kahoks (16-11 overall, 5-6 in league play) failed to protect a 14-point lead in the third quarter and watched Edwardsville (15-9, 6-5) fly back into the game on an 18-4 run that tied it at 37-37, they asked Midgett to do just a little bit more.
He let the final shot fly in traffic from the top of the key with Edwardsville’s Kyler Davis right on top of him, sinking it for the game-winner.
“I was feeling it,” said Midgett, who drained five of his seven 3-point attempts. “I told Dre (Emondre Rickman) ...give me the ball and I can make a big play because they were counting on me. It fell. I hit it. Kyler Davis is a good player, was right up on me. It fell.”
While Midgett’s shots didn’t scrape the ceiling, they may have gathered a bit of dust from the rafters before beginning their downward trajectory.
“I take those kinds of shots a lot,” he said. “I didn’t expect it to hit it stepping back like that, but it was in.”
Trailing 33-19 in the third quarter and still down by 11 early in the fourth, the Tigers began hammering away inside with impressive 6-foot-5 sophomore A.J. Epenesa scoring five of his 10 points in the fourth quarter. Epenesa was double-teamed when he found Davis streaking to the basket for a layup that tied it 37-37 with 40 seconds remaining.
After Midgett nailed the 3-pointer, officials put 0.6 seconds up on the clock and the Tigers got off a long inbounds pass that failed to lead to a shot.
Lee did not seem surprised at Midgett’s clutch performance.
“That was just one of those things that happen in high school basketball,” Lee said. “You get that one big shot ... it was obviously not a high-percentage shot, but Ronnie’s the kind of guy that’s got that kind of game.
“He can get shots off at will. That’s what helps him.”
Edwardsville coach Mike Waldo said the Kahok’s combination of size (6-7 and 6-8 inside) and guard play are a tough combination.
“It’s hard to defend post guys like they have and guard the perimeter also,” Waldo said. “We knew (Midgett) could do that, he just shoots them far and it’s hard to get all the way out there. I thought our guys battled hard and gave us a good chance to win.”
Collinsville’s Anfirnee Wilkinson added 13 points, including 11 in the first half, as he and Midgett combined for 30 of the Kahoks’ 40 points. Epenesa led Edwardsville with 10 points and Kyler Davis had eight as the Kahoks’ defense took away the Tigers’ other offensive weapons.
“We were not going to leave (Oliver) Stephen at all,” Lee said. “We just decided that somebody besides Mark Smith or Oliver Stephen was going to beat us. Thast was all there was to it.”
Edwardsville won the first meeting 59-55 on Dec. 5.
Six of Collinsville’s 10 field goals in the first half came from beyond the 3-point arc, including two from at least 23 feet by Midgett. Midgett and Wilkinson each had three 3-pointers in the first half while combining for 20 points before halftime.
Wilkinson had 11 of those as the Kahoks wiped out an early 10-5 deficit, outscoring the Tigers 21-9 on their way to the locker room at halftime. The teams combined to sink 10 3-pointers in the first half.
“We had some bad things happen in the game, but our guys kept battling and kept competing,” Waldo said. “It gave us a chance to win the game. We did a very good job defensively, we just ran into some guys that made some long threes tonight and that’s hard to defend when you’ve got two post guys like they have.”