Briley Kellison is making up for lost time.
Kellison, a 6-foot-2 senior, is starting for the Collinsville basketball team after missing his junior season due to a knee injury. The Kahoks are 4-4 overall and 1-3 in the Southwestern Conference heading into Friday's home game against Granite City.
"He's had to work pretty hard to come back, but he's done a nice job," Collinsville coach Darin Lee said. "He's always been able to shoot, but he's gotten better at defending and rebounding.
"Last year was tough for him because he didn't get to play. He would be better now if he had played, but he'll continue to improve and he's got better games ahead of him.
"His conditioning was a bit of an issue early on because he would get tired, but he played a lot of minutes at O'Fallon (in a 59-54 win on Dec. 7). You can see him coming around."
Kellison tore the meniscus in his left knee last year playing basketball in an open gym session. He had just finished soccer season.
"I came down off a layup and couldn't straighten my knee," Kellison said. "I knew right away it was pretty serious because I couldn't put a lot of pressure on it. There was a tear all the way through it, so it had to be sewn back together.
"I was out the whole basketball season and since I'm a catcher in baseball, I missed that whole season, too. It was really frustrating."
Kellison gave up playing soccer in order to prepare for basketball season.
"I was doing rehab with my knee all the way though baseball season and I actually got to full-paced stuff during the summer. It took me a long time to get back into running up and down the court."
While Kellison is a varsity newcomer, he's not alone. Collinsville has five new starters and only two of them, leading scorer Falando Wilkinson and fellow senior Chris Mathes, played on a regular basis last season.
"We've got a lot of young guys with not a lot of experience," Kellison said. "Zeke Moore, a freshman, has been doing a real good job for us.
"We could have done better in a few games, but we're improving all the time. As far as myself, I'm getting stronger and getting more in shape. From the beginning of the season through October, I was struggling through conditioning practices, but now I'm feeling pretty good."
Kellison is averaging 9.8 points per game, second on the team behind Wilkinson (15.6).
"I usually look to shoot threes and to be a leader on the court," Kellison said. "I'm feeling good about my shot and I'm getting it back."
Kellison is also looking forward to playing baseball again this spring.
"One sport definitely helps the other, especially the team aspect, plus there are various movements you do in both sports,” Kellison said. “I'm probably better at basketball.
“If the opportunity came around, I might consider playing in college, but at this point I'm looking to go to a big state school, so I probably won't. I'm considering U of I (the University of Illinois), Mizzou and Indiana University.”
For now, though, Kellison is concentrating on Kahoks basketball.
“Our conference is really tough, but I think we can finish in the top half,” Kellison said. “We just need to continue improving defensively and work on our offensive sets.”