Collinsville vs East St. Louis
The snakebitten Collinsville Kahoks finally struck back on Friday at Vergil Fletcher Gymnasium.
Junior guard Ray’Sean Taylor hit a floater from just inside the free throw circle with 2.5 seconds remaining Friday as Collinsville ended its regular season with a 61-60 win over the East St. Louis Flyers.
Collinsville suffered one of its three last-second losses when it dropped a 67-64 decision at East St. Louis in early December. On Friday, Collinsville trailed 60-59. But when Flyers senior Richard Robinson missed a pair of free throws with 20 seconds left, the Kahoks and Taylor had a chance.
And unlike the last-second loss to the Flyers along with similar heartbreaking losses to Alton and Springfield Southeast, this time it was the Kahoks’ turn to win a nail-bitter.
Getting the ball with seven seconds remaining, Taylor split between two Flyers and tossed his floater through as the partisan Kahoks crowd erupted.
“Wanted to make sure Ray-Sean got the basketball. That’s why we had the second ball-handler in the game. He (Taylor) was going to get the basketball. Everybody in the gym knew he was going to get the basketball,’’ Collinsville coach Darin Lee said. “He penetrated through and hit the shot.
“This one and the win against Belleville West ... it all evens out... This is a big victory for us going into the postseason.’’
The Southwestern Conference champion Flyers (10-2, 23-6), riding a 12-game winning streak and ranked fourth in the Class 3A state poll, had one last chance.
With 2.5 seconds remaining, Terrence Hargrove’s halfcourt shot hit the back of the rim and Collinsville had the win.
“I got the ball and I knew they (East St. Louis) was going to double-team me. I had the option of going around the defenders or cutting between them,’’ Taylor said. “No fear at all, I knew I was going to get the ball and I knew the shot was going in. There was no doubt in my mind.’’
Taylor led Collinsville (26-5) with 28 points while super-quick backcourt mate Cawhan Smith added 12. Ranked ninth in the Class 4A state poll, Collinsville ends is SWC season at 10-4.
East St. Louis came out of the gate fast on Friday. With Hargrove scoring nine of his 19 points, the Flyers led 25-16 after one quarter and led by as many as 11 points on three occasions in the second quarter before settling for a 34-27 lead at halftime.
“Playing against a quality team like Collinsville in a hostile environment we knew we had to get off to a good start tonight and we did exactly that,’’ Flyers coach Mark Chambers said. “I thought we played well and I’m very proud of our effort.
“But to be 23-6, Southwestern Conference champions in one of the toughest basketball leagues in the state and having a 12-game winning streak coming into tonight. I’ll take that.”
Smith and Taylor ignited a Collinsville comeback in the third quarter as the Kahoks cut their deficit to 50-48. The duo combined for 15 of the team’s points in the period.
Collinsville cut the led to two points early in the fourth quarter and when Taylor and Keydrian Jones scored seconds apart with under three minuets left, the Kahoks had their first lead of the night at 56-54.