It took only a second for Collinsville guard Ray’Sean Taylor to decide what to do with the ball in his hands and time running down.
But the Belleville West Maroons changed his plans.
Following a game-tying basket by West senior Keith Randolph, Taylor took the inbound pass and was fouled. His two free throws with 6.2 seconds remaining lifted Collinsville to a 58-56 upset of the defending 4A state champions and ended the Maroons’ 24-game Southwestern Conference winning streak.
Collinsville (23-3) held a 56-54 lead following a tip-in basket by Marshall Harrison, but when Randolph scored his second basket of the game with eight seconds remaining, the game was deadlocked at 56.
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Taylor, the leading scorer in the metro-east with just under 22 points per game, drew contact near the Maroons’ bench.
“If they (West) scored I was going to get the ball up the floor as quick as I could and look for a shot. But I got fouled, I felt pretty good going to the line. I’m a good free throw shooter,’’ Taylor said. “I’m just glad their shot didn’t go down.’’
West, playing without all-state senior EJ Liddell, had the final shot, but a 3-point attempt by senior Will Shumpert went off the rim.
“We’ve lost three real close games this year, including a couple of buzzer beaters. We were due for one to go our way,’’ Collinsville coach Darin Lee said. “Even without EJ (Liddelll), West is a very good basketball team and very tough to beat on their home floor. But after the games we lost this year, our kids needed to see that they could win a close game and tonight we did that.’’
The reigning Illinois Mr. Basketball, Liddell was in street clothes on the Maroons bench on Tuesday. The 6-foot-7 two-time first team all-state selection was wearing a boot on his left foot after sustaining a sprained ankle early in the Maroons’ win over Chicago Simeon at the Bank of O’Fallon Shootout on Saturday.
West coach Joe Muniz said Liddell is day-to-day. He wasn’t sure if Liddell will be healthy enough when the Maroons host East St. Louis in a battle for the SWC lead on Friday. The Flyers are 8-1 in league play while West (23-2) is 7-1.
Despite not having Liddell in the lineup, the Maroons came out quickly. With Lawrence Brazil hitting a pair of 3-point jumpers and Shumpert adding a pair of dunks, West led the almost the entire first half.
But Harrison, who led all scorers with 24 points, added a pair of jump shots and Keydrian Jones scored twice late to bring Collinsville to within 26-24 at halftime.
“I thought we played a great first half except for about four or five possessions where we didn’t get shots or turned the ball over,” Muniz said. “That was the difference in the game. We were up two points at halftime when we could have had a 10-point lead.
“The Harrison kid hurt us. He made shots we didn’t expect him to make. We came into the game thinking we were going to win, but I know this one will help us be a better and tougher team the rest of the season.”
Taylor added 17 points for Collinsvillle, while Brazil led West with 17 points and Shumpert and Jaylin Mosby added 11 points each.