JERSEYVILLE - They shot and shot and shot, but mainly fired blanks. So the Alton Redbirds could hang their 57-54 loss to Collinsville on inconsistent shooting Monday in the Jersey Mid-Winter Classic.
Some shots went in, but more didn't connect. Alton proved to be the gang that couldn't shoot straight at Havens Gym.
The Redbirds made only 18 of 59 shots-or 30 percent - in their narrow loss to the Kahoks. Alton found the range on just 4 of 22 treys in falling to 9-10 overall. The Redbirds, 1-1 in the tourney and the owner of the same record against the Kahoks this season, resume tourney action Wednesday.
"I'd like to see us make more passes, but that's not us," Alton coach Eric Smith said. "We need to be more mentally tougher and focused, and then we have to stay focused."
Nobody was more focused than Collinsville guard Falando Wilkinson, a 6-foot-2 senior. He scored a game-best 23 points to follow up a 35-point performance Saturday against Marquette Catholic. Collinsville, 8-10 overall and 2-0 in the tourney, has put itself in prime position to contend for the Jersey title. The Kahoks play the host Panthers on Wednesday and defending champion Cahokia on Friday.
"We really needed this game because we have lost some close ones," Kahoks' coach Darin Lee said.
One of those defeats was to Alton 50-47 last month at Collinsville's Vergil Flecther Gym.
Wilkinson made sure the Kahoks weren't about to suffer the same fate. He tallied 13 points in the second half, including six free throws in the final quarter, to steer Collinsville in the right direction.
"Falando is having quite a tournament," Lee said. "He is shooting it well and has really caught fire."
You might say that Wilkinson does for Collinsville what DeShawn Munson does for East St. Louis. Both are point guards who can score plenty.
"That's a tough way to run the offense, with the point guard doing your scoring," Lee said. "But Falando could do a lot of things and has a lot of energy. I can't sub for him."
Wilkinson made 6 of 16 shots, including a pair of 3-pointers. He was 11-for-12 from the foul line. The Kahoks scored all of their fourth-quarter points on free throws. They made 13 of 19.
Alton still had an opportunity to tie the game with 11 seconds to go, but the Redbirds couldn't get off a quality shot. A'Basa Brown missed on a long 3-pointer.
Brown and Tyrome Parker both scored 15 points to boost the Birds. However, Alton missed a bunch of close shots around the basket.
"I think their (Kahoks) size had a little to do with it," Smith said. "But our shooting has been pretty much like that all season. We will hit a couple of shots and then we don't hit any for a while."