Boys Basketball

Collinsville boys basketball coach gets 600th career win

Colllinsville head coach Darin Lee gestures as he shouts in tactics to his team in a 2016 game.
Colllinsville head coach Darin Lee gestures as he shouts in tactics to his team in a 2016 game.

Collinsville boys basketball coach Darin Lee on Wednesday became the 40th coach in Illinois High School Association history to record 600 career wins.

Lee, now in his ninth season at Collinsville and 29th season as a high school coach, joined the exclusive group when the Kahoks defeated host Jerseyville 46-42 at the Jerseyville Tournament.

“I remember when I got my 100th coaching win at Nashville. That was an accomplishment. To coach for 29 years and now to have 600 wins ... I feel very blessed,” Lee said. “I have had the opportunity to do what I love to do and work with many excellent administrators, coaches and great kids in my career.

“It’s very rewarding to see the players I have coached mature and become successful in their lives.”

Lee, 53, who was inducted into the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2011, began his coaching career at Vienna High School, where he coached from 1989-91 and compiled a 39-15 record.

But it was at Nashville High School where Lee developed the Hornets’ program into one of the best in the state. In 18 years, Lee led Nashville to a mark of 426-128. The Hornets advanced to the state tournament five times from 1997-2007.

Lee then moved on to Collinsville, where he has a record of 135-124 with the Kahoks. He has been the Collinsville High School Athletic Director since 2013.

Lee with fans
Collinsville boys basketball coach Darin Lee watches his team during the Collinsville Holiday Tournament in 2013 with backing of the Kahoks’ student section. Tim Vizer

According to the IHSA record book, legendary Collinsville coach Vergil Fletcher has 792 wins. Westchester St. Joseph’s coach Gene Pingatore picked up his 1,000th career win this past season. Pingatore is the only boys basketball coach in IHSA history with more than 1,000 coaching wins.

Among the family and friends on hand Wednesday to watch as Lee joined the exclusive 600-win club was his father, David Lee, a longtime high school coach whose career included stints at Carmi, Johnston City, Carbondale, West Frankfort and McLeansboro.

The elder Lee recorded 447 victories in his coaching career and was inducted into the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1993.

His son was the starting point guard on the McLeansboro team that placed third in the Class A state tournament in 1983. The following season, the Foxes were led to the championship by Brian Sloan, the son of former Chicago Bulls great and Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan.

“I was just glad they (Collinsville) won the game,” David Lee said. “I knew he had 599, but I had forgotten until his (Lee’s) sister-in-law waved a banner after the game.

“Darin has done a great job at every school he has coached. He knows the game extremely well, and he knows how to motivate and coach kids. The kids like playing for him, and I think when a coach has those things going for him, he’s going to be successful. He is a fine man, and I am very proud of him.”

The win over Jerseyville moved Collinsville to 12-8 for the season. In their final game in Jerseyville, the young Kahoks squad will take on Cahokia. That game is at 6 p.m. Friday.

“We still are a young team, and we’re learning,” Lee said. “It was a good night because we won the game. For us to not play our best and still find a way to win on their court, that’s a good win.”