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Halde, Thompson play key roles for Collinsville

January 2, 2013
Collinsville High School

Scott Marion STLhighschoolsports.comstltoday.com Posted: Wednesday, January 2, 2013

It's been an up-and-down season for the Collinsville girls basketball team,  but the play of Karla Halde and Lexie Thompson gives the Kahoks plenty of reason  for optimism.

Halde, a 6-foot senior, and Thompson, a 5-9 junior, have been standouts for  Collinsville,which is 5-6 overall and 3-2 in the Southwestern Conference heading  into Thursday's game at Belleville East.

“Lexie has really stepped up,” Collinsville coach Lori Billy said. “Last year  she had some varsity experience but not a lot and this year she's slid right  into her role and been very solid for us. When we need somebody to score points,  she's been able to knock shots down. She's been working on being able to attack  and go inside and it's starting to pay off.

“Karla got a lot of experience last year at the varsity level. We've had a  couple games where we just didn't get her the ball enough, but when we do get  her the ball, she's scoring 18 or 20 points a game. She's working on her inside  moves and we're trying to get here to attack more. She's such a sweet kid that  it's not in her personality to be aggressive, so we're working on trying to make  her a little more aggressive.”

Collinsville has played well at times, but has yet to string together more  than two wins in a row.

"We have a lot of younger players coming up from the JV and even some  freshmen that have to step up, but I see some progress," Halde said. "We're  still getting used to playing together and I think we'll be good coming out of  the (holiday) break."

Collinsville's schedule has included SWC rival Edwardsville (a 59-10 loss on  Nov. 29) and small-school power Mater Dei (a 56-31 loss on Dec. 22).

"You just try to learn something from games like that," Thompson said. "We've  also got a tough schedule coming out of the break with Edwardsville and the  Bellevilles (East and West)."

Because they were not in a holiday tournament, the Kahoks have an 11-day  break between games.

"I think it would be beneficial to be in a tournament, but we have stuff we  need to work on too," Halde said.

"I think a tournament would be a good idea also, but practice is OK,"  Thompson said.

Halde leads the team in scoring with 11.2 points per game and is second in  rebounding with three boards per game. As a junior, she averaged 6.4 points and  5.6 rebounds.

"I have a little more responsibility this year," Halde said. "With the  younger girls, I have to make sure they keep their heads in the game and keep  them focused on where they need to be going.

"Last year, we had four seniors and Shaye Barrett was kind of the head of the  floor, so now I'm filling in that spot. I've had to work at that because I'm not  really one to yell at people."

Next season, Halde will play at McKendree University. She also considered  Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Mo., and Eastern Illinois University.

"It's been a such a relief (to make a college decision)," Halde said. "It's  nice to know where I'm going and I can just work on the things that I need to be  working on. I don't have to worry about impressing somebody who came to our game  to watch me.

"McKendree has my major (athletic training) and they have a really good  program for it. That was a big part of my decision."

Halde starting playing basketball in fourth grade. In the summer of 2011, she  played AAU basketball for the Hurricanes, a team that also included 2012 CHS  graduate Kayla Murphy.

"It was a really good experience and I wish I would have done it more," Halde  said. "It's good talent and competition - it's a completely different level than  high school.

"This year improving my defense has been a big thing - talking on the floor  and knowing where I'm supposed to be. I've never stepped out to play guard at  any point in my career, so I feel pretty comfortable in the post. I've been  working on certain moves with some of the coaches and I'm doing some of that now  in games."

Thompson, who is averaging 8.4 points per game, played two years of AAU ball  for the Southwestern Illinois Jets before and played with Halde on the  Hurricanes before playing for the Heat last summer.

"My AAU experience really helped me out," Thompson said. "We had tournaments  where college coaches would look at you and you play against better people,  which makes you better. I've played with girls that we play against now, so that  helps too."

Thompson's introduction to basketball came at the YMCA when she was in first  grade.

"I used to play soccer, but basketball took that over," Thompson said. "This  year, my 2-point shooting has really improved.

"I didn't play much varsity last year, so it's way different this year. In  addition to shooting, the coaches look for me to take a leadership role on the  floor, just talking. We all need to do that."

The girls are hoping Collinsville will be more consistent in the second half  of the season.

"Beating the Bellevilles and just to go on a run coming out of the break  would be nice," Halde said. "We want to go as far we can - the biggest thing is  just improving our communication."

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