It was quite a week for the Collinsville Kahoks.
After winning at Edwardsville on Tuesday, the Kahoks held off a determined effort by Belleville West on Friday en route to a 60-50 victory.
The Kahoks, who got 20 points from senior Anfirnee Wilkinson and 10 points from senior Emondre Rickman, forced 23 turnovers and made clutch shots with the game on the line.
“It’s a big win, a nice win for us,” said Collinsville coach Darin Lee, whose team improved to 17-11 overall and 6-6 in the Southwestern Conference. “I think we’re learning how to win games. We’re learning how to handle adversity a little better. There’s no question.”
The Kahoks led 30-18 after senior Nic Gonet hit a 3-pointer with 5:18 remaining in the third quarter. But the Maroons (7-17, 2-10) caught fire behind senior Eugene Jones, who capped a nine-point quarter with a buzzer-beating layup that made it 36-36 heading into the fourth.
Jones’ bucket culminated a 15-4 run by the Maroons.
But Wilkinson opened the period with a 3-pointer and junior Zach Flora followed with a baseline jumper to make it 41-36 with 6:54 to play.
West climbed within 45-41 on senior Demond White’s 3-pointer from the corner with 5:21 to play, and was still within four at 49-45 when White hit another 3-pointer with 3:54 left.
Wilkinson followed with a driving layup to make it 51-45, but White answered with two free throws that made it 51-47 with 2:58 to play. Collinsville then scored nine of the final 12 points in the game, with Rickman’s reverse dunk making it 55-47 with 2:05 remaining.
“We’ve played everybody tough, for the most part,” Maroons coach Joe Muniz said. “We’re just having a hard time getting over the hump.”
Muniz said his team’s high turnover total was “inexcusable.”
“We’ve got to take care of the ball better,” he said. “I think we did a good job battling back and finding a way to give us a chance to win the game. But on the offensive end, those (turnovers) are empty possessions, and when you have that many empty possessions against a good team, it’s going to be hard to win, especially on the road.”
Jones led all scorers with 22 points on 10-for-14 shooting from the field, while White had 13 points before fouling out with 51.5 seconds to play. White was economical, going 3-for-5 from the floor and 4-for-4 from the free-throw line. All of his baskets were 3-pointers.
The Maroons were hurt by foul trouble on 6-foot-5 sophomore Tyler Dancy, who picked up his second with 2:20 left in the first quarter and his third with 6:18 left in the second quarter, sending him to the bench on both occasions. Dancy finished with five points, eight under his average.
“Tyler’s got to learn how to play with fouls. He’s got to learn what’s a good foul, what’s not a good foul,” Muniz said. “I thought his third foul (on a made shot by Wilkinson) was inexcusable.
“He’s only a sophomore, but he’s not a sophomore. He’s been playing varsity for two years and we need him out on the floor. There’s no doubt about that.”
White hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to give the Maroons a 10-8 lead after the first quarter. Collinsville led 23-13 in the final minute of the second quarter, but Jones scored four points, including a jumper just ahead of the horn that whittled West’s deficit to 23-17 at halftime.
Collinsville got scoring from eight players and its bench outscored the Maroons’ reserves 13-3. Gonet had seven points and two 3-pointers.
The Kahoks used five different guards to counteract the Maroons’ pressure, which forced 10 second-half turnovers and 16 in the game.
“We went through a lot of different combinations,” Lee said. “We’ve seen so much pressure lately and we’re starting to get a little better. But you have to be in position to be ahead to be fortunate enough to handle pressure.”