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Collinsville picks up win at East St. Louis to seize control of league race

January 30, 2012
By Chris Kusnerick of Collinsville High School

EAST ST. LOUIS • The Collinsville boys basketball team hasn't won a Southwestern Conference championship since 2002. Winning another one is a goal the Kahoks talk about every day.

Collinsville took a big step toward that objective with a 51-42 victory at East St. Louis on Saturday afternoon, as both schools had been tied for the top spot in the league standings.

"That was a big win for us, on the road at East St. Louis," coach Darin Lee said. "It's a chance to go in the lead in the conference. It's been a while since we've had the outright lead in the conference, probably when we won it in '02. Being in here after eight games in the conference and having a one-game lead, I don't know if anybody would have envisioned that before the season started."

The No. 5 team in the STLhighschoolsports.com large-schools rankings, Collinsville improved to 19-3 overall and 7-1 in league play. Daryn Foster scored a game-high 18 points, including 14 in the second half, and Jaris Wellmaker added 14 points.

"It feels good," Foster said. "We haven't been (alone) in first place ever since I've been here or in a long time."

Seventh-ranked East St. Louis, which had defeated Collinsville 57-46 on Dec. 6, fell to 16-6 overall and 6-2 in conference play with its third straight loss. The Kahoks came in allowing a league-low 43 points per game and it was their defense that made a difference once again.

"Defense wins games," Wellmaker said. "Offense sells the tickets."

East St. Louis entered Saturday's matchup averaging a league-best 65 points per game, but the Flyers were without leading scorer and rebounder Deshawn Munson (thigh bruise) and held three players out of the starting lineup after being late to practice in recent days.

Still, with two juniors and two sophomores in the starting lineup, East St. Louis got off to a quick start and led 14-10 after one quarter.

Collinsville kept the game close and used an 8-2 run at the end of the second quarter to take a 21-20 lead into halftime.

The Kahoks scored the final six points of the third quarter, to take a 34-30 lead, and then pulled away in the fourth with Foster leading the way. After turning the ball over 11 times in the first half, they had just two turnovers over the final two quarters.

The Flyers, who got 13 points from Johnny McCray and 12 from Brandon Johnson, couldn't keep up down the stretch.

"They play great defense and they are in every ballgame because of their defense," East St. Louis coach Ray Coleman said. "I just give credit to their defense. They've got good shooters, but it's their defense that does it. I knew that we were going to have to have a lot of movement and force them to make a lot of decisions and we didn't do that."

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