Collinsville hit Belleville East hard in the third quarter Tuesday, but the Lancers’ counterpunches proved more effective.
The Kahoks trimmed East’s 18-point lead to one before the Lancers responded with a 7-0 run that catapulted them to a 68-58 victory in a Southwestern Conference game.
I didn’t really feel like I was ready. I just went out there and played.
Belleville East junior Javon Pickett on his 31-point game
Junior Javon Pickett carried East (17-9 overall, 8-5 SWC) with a game-best 31 points, which included three 3-pointers and an 8-for-8 showing from the free-throw line.
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“I didn’t really feel like I was ready,” said Pickett, the University of Illinois recruit. “I just went out there and played. At first, I didn’t know whether I was going to play good or not. But then once I got into the flow of the game, I just got more into it. My teammates got me the ball and I was knocking down shots and making my free throws.”
Pickett was 10-for-18 from the field and was unfazed by the box-and-one defense he opposed for much of the second half. It created space for teammates like junior Rico Sylvester (13 points) and senior Jalen Jones (11 points), whose offensive contributions helped pave the way.
“I’m proud of the guys for coming out after (Collinsville) made a run,” Lancers coach Abel Schrader said. “It was real close and then guys stepped up and made some shots. This is a tough place to win, so we’re happy with the win tonight. We move on.”
It was another disappointing setback for the Kahoks (9-18, 1-12), who have dropped nine of their last 10 despite playing their opponents tough.
“We’ve played better the last three games,” Collinsville coach Darin Lee said of losses to Edwardsville, Belleville West and East. “That’s what’s tough about our conference. We’ve played better. We just don’t have any wins to show for it. We’re competing. But we haven’t been able to get over the hump against a lot of teams with a lot of talent.”
Collinsville trailed 38-20 with 6:21 to play, but followed with a 21-4 run highlighted by six 3-pointers – three apiece by senior Tommy Maden and junior Ronnie Midgett.
Midgett’s 3-pointer brought the Kahoks within 42-41 with 1:37 left in the period, and Collinsville maintained possession of the ball when East was whistled for a foul as Midgett’s snapped the net.
But Midgett then missed an potential go-ahead shot off the inbounds play, and Sylvester followed with one of the biggest shots of the game when he drilled a 3-pointer out of the right corner to make it 45-41 with 1:01 to play in the third quarter.
Pickett closed the quarter with a basket, then opened the fourth quarter with another basket that gave the Lancers a 49-41 lead. Collinsville got within four on one other occasion, but was turned away by 3-pointers from senior Drew Millas and Pickett.
I’m proud of the guys for coming out after (Collinsville) made a run. It was real close and then guys stepped up and made some shots. This is a tough place to win, so we’re happy with the win tonight. We move on.
Belleville East coach Abel Schrader
“We changed to the box-and-one on Pickett in the second half,” Lee said. “That may have helped a little bit, but he’s still tough to guard no matter what defense you’re in. He’s a good player, no doubt. And (the box-and-one) opened things up for other guys. That makes it difficult.”
Pickett, Sylvester and Jones, the Lancers’ leading scorers, were a combined 12-for-12 from the free-throw line. East finished 20-for-23 from the line.
Pickett appears to be his same dominant self since returning from a knee injury.
We’ve played better the last three games. We just don’t have any wins to show for it.
Collinsville coach Darin Lee
“I thought he played pretty good,” Schrader said. “He’s played pretty solid all year, but we had some other guys step up and make some shots and guard and defend.”
Midgett scored 18 of his 20 points in the second half and had four 3-pointers. He was, however, just 7-for-25 from the field. Junior Sam Webb finished with 13 points, nine in the first half. Maden scored all nine of his points in the second half.