Collinsville clicked on all cylinders Tuesday and turned the tables on its regular-season struggles against O’Fallon.
Senior Anfirnee Wilkinson scored a game-high 24 points, senior Brett Langley scored 12 and 6-foot-8 senior Emondre Rickman added 11 as the third-seeded Kahoks thumped the second-seeded Panthers 80-62 in the semifinals of the Class 4A Belleville West Regional. The win avenged 56-51 and 70-52 losses to O’Fallon in Southwestern Conference play.
Collinsville made seven 3-pointers and used a triangle-and-two defense to frustrate O’Fallon seniors Donovan Franklin and Darien McClain. Franklin, guarded by Wilkinson, scored 15 points, while McClain, shadowed by Langley, scored 11. They were a combined 9-for-27 from the field. Franklin, who had 36 points against the Kahoks on Jan. 30, fouled out with 2:06 to play.
“We just came out with a lot of energy,” Wilkinson said. “The last two regional games, they came back and beat us both times. We wanted to get revenge on them, so we came out with a lot of fire. Everybody was in the game, everybody was hitting their shots and making good passes and we handled the ball pretty good.”
Wilkinson made three 3-pointers, while Langley had two and senior Harrison Wethers and sophomore Ronnie Midgett had one apiece. Wethers and Midgett each scored nine points.
The Kahoks (19-12), who took control with a 22-2 run in the first and second quarters, will play top-seeded East St. Louis (20-6) in the championship game at 7 p.m. Friday.
“We changed some things we had done before,” Collinsville coach Darin Lee said of his team’s defensive scheme. “We decided we were not going to let Franklin and McClain beat us. When Rick (Gibson, O’Fallon’s coach) had to put some shooters on the floor, their defense went down a little bit. It took (Alex) Orr out, it took (Nathan) Cokenour out. That helped us, because those guys are very good defenders.”
Collinsville shot 52 percent from the field (25-for-48) and was 23-for-28 from the free-throw line. O’Fallon struggled on both ends of the court, allowing 80 points for just the second time this season and shooting 37 percent from the floor (22-for-60).
Senior Caleb Wegner had 12 points on four 3-pointers for the Panthers and junior Chance Armstrong scored 11 points before fouling out with 5:44 remaining.
“They just outplayed us inside and outside. They played well,” Gibson said of the Kahoks. “They made big shots when they needed to. It’s disappointing.”
O’Fallon opened with a 10-5 lead, but Collinsville answered with its 22-2 run that produced a 27-12 lead with 3:26 to play in the second quarter. The Panthers cut the gap to 30-25 at halftime as Wegner and senior Parker Roustio hit 3-pointers.
But the Kahoks’ offense was unstoppable in the second half as it amassed 50 points. Senior Cole Buehne chased down a rebound and scored from the baseline to beat the buzzer and give Collinsville a 53-43 lead after three quarters. The Kahoks built a 16-point lead midway through the fourth quarter and were never threatened again.
“We couldn’t sustain anything,” Gibson said. “We would make a run, then they would come back. They’ve got a lot of seniors and they weren’t ready to have the season over.”
East St. Louis 66, Belleville West 45: The Flyers led just 11-8 after one quarter as West was able to control the tempo. But East Side outscored the Maroons 19-11 in the second quarter en route to the one-sided win. The Flyers had defeated West 71-69 on the same floor Feb. 13.
“The kids played hard,” Flyers interim coach Hank Harris said. “Belleville West did a great job; they were prepared for us. That first half, we struggled a little bit. But the kids had really good practices Saturday and Monday, so that helped us. We were focused and ready to play. It was a good win for us.”
East Side led 50-33 afer three quarters, then scored the first 10 points of the fourth quarter as its lead swelled to 60-33.
Sophomore Jeremiah Tilmon had 13 points to lead the Flyers, while juniors Karon Randolph and Patrick Baxter scored 10 points apiece. Senior Antony Johnson, for the second game in a row, helped set the tone with three early 3-pointers. His third 3, which came with 5:27 left in the second quarter, put East Side ahead 20-10.
The Flyers withstood another big game from 6-9 senior Will Presson of the Maroons, who recorded his second straight double-double with 11 points and 14 rebounds. Sophomore Tyler Dancy led West (9-19) with 15 points, and senior Eugene Jones had 11.
“They were very active inside and we didn’t have an answer for Tilmon, (Tyrone) Riley and whoever else they threw out there,” Maroons coach Joe Muniz said. “We didn’t shoot the ball particularly well. We had to have a lot of things go right for us to pull this one out. We just didn’t have enough things go our way.
“The first quarter, the pace was good. It was a halfcourt game. We were just battling. We let them hit a couple of 3s and that kind of sparked them a little bit.”