Collinsville opens season with five new starters
November 28, 2012Collinsville High School
Author: Scott Marion of STLsports. Last year, Collinsville was one of the best boys basketball teams in the Metro East, but repeating that success this season won't be easy.
Collinsville was 23-6, including an 11-3 mark in the Southwestern Conference, good for a first-place tie with Edwardsville. The Kahoks lost their last two SWC games by a combined four points to Belleville East and Belleville West by a combined four points. then lost 61-57 to West in a Class 4A regional semifinal.
"I wouldn't call it a tailspin at the end of the season because I thought we played awfully good teams," Collinsville coach Darin Lee said. "We had a little injury to (Jaris) Wellmaker, but you have to give credit to the other teams. We won the conference, so it was still a pretty successful season."
Graduation losses included starters Daryn Foster (16.4 points per game), Wellmaker (9.7 ppg) and Devonta Crochrell (7.3 ppg) as well as key reserve Caleb Johnson (3.8 ppg). Senior Jason Kusnerick elected not to play this season to concentrate on soccer, so that leaves seniors Falando Wilkinson (1.6 ppg) and Chris Mathes (1.4 ppg) as the only returning varsity regulars.
"We pretty much turned over our whole roster," Lee said. "That happens, but it's going to be very difficult for us because there's so much talent in the Southwestern Conference. Even when you execute well, you still might not win.
"Over the summer and into practice, Falando has been our No. 1 guy. He can get to the basket and gives us a scoring option.
"Chris can shoot the ball well and has some size (6-foot-3). He's a good baseball player and a good all-around athlete."
The other seniors are Riley Kellison and Travis Dunnette.
"Riley didn't play last year due to a knee injury and he's still rounding back into shape," Lee said. "Travis offers some depth in whatever role we use him in."
Other potential starters are 6-4 junior Tanner Houck, 6-7 sophomore Emondre Rickman and 6-6 sophomore Sean Davis.
"Tanner is very active and can rebound the basketball and make open shots," Lee said. "The sophomores give us some size and lot depends on whether we have one of them in the five (position) and push Tanner to the four.
"Zeke Moore is a freshman and he's also going to get some playing time along with Jacob Shaffer, who is a junior. Finding some chemistry is going to be important for us."
Collinsville opens the season against Salem in the Pyramid Plus Tournament in Marion. The Kahoks also play Herrin on Nov. 21, Mount Vernon on Nov. 23 and Marion on Nov. 24.
"We have a lot of guys that haven't played varsity basketball, but they've been playing basketball all their lives," Lee said. "The varsity game goes a lot faster than it does at younger levels and that's going to be the biggest adjustment for them.
"We always try to get in the upper half of the conference and we've done that in two of my first three years here when most people didn't think we could do it. We always try to get to .500 in conference and that's going to be difficult.
"We also want to get in the semifinals of our (Collinsville-Schnucks holiday) tournament. The first tournament at Marion is going to be big for us because we'd like to get off to a good start."