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Timely switch by Kahoks dooms Redbirds

December 19, 2011
By Chris Kusnerick of Collinsville High School

GODFREY — The Collinsville Kahoks quickly realized that playing man-to-man defense against Alton would not be a recipe for success.

So a simple defensive switch paid huge dividends.

Collinsville switched to a 2-3 zone, forcing the Redbirds into a perimeter-shooting team.

Using a 20-2 run, the Kahoks quickly turned a 5-point deficit into a double-digit lead, and Collinsville used its stout defense along with Alton’s inability to knock shots down in its favor. The end result was a 60-37 runaway over the Redbirds Friday night in Southwestern Conference play at Alton High School.

Collinsville (8-1, 3-1) got balanced scoring from four starters, with Devonta Crochrell leading the way with 14 points, Jaris Wellmaker with 13, J’Vaughn Williams with 12 and Daryn Foster with 10.

The Kahoks used a 20-2 run to turn a 25-20 deficit into a 40-27 lead, and once Collinsville built its lead, Alton (2-7, 0-4) was caught trying to play catch-up too fast.

“We worked on a lot in practice trying to spread the floor,” Collinsville coach Darin Lee said. “We go to our X-offense, but they went and doubled. When somebody goes and doubles, that man’s got to go find the basketball. And when you don’t turn it over and get a high-percentage shot, you can make them pay. But if you turn it over, which is what they want, they can get lay-ups.

“Wellmaker’s unbelievable getting his hands on the basketball. I’ve probably never had anyone before or again like him. And across our back line with Williams, Foster and Crochrell and bringing Johnson off the bench, we have much more length than Alton does. I think that helps us.”

The Kahoks utilized that defense to perfection once they went with the zone.

“Towards the end of the second quarter, we went zone and they really struggled to score,” Lee said about Alton. “I think that’s something they’re probably going to see more of at times. I think that was the difference for us.

“Our zone is pretty good — Wellmaker on the top and Williams in the middle. We’ve worked on our zone a lot this week in practice.”

The Redbirds, who got 11 points from Tyrome Parker, were 6-for-13 in the opening eight minutes and led 18-16. But Alton finished the game 11-for-44, or 5-for-31 the rest of the game.

“In the second quarter, we missed some shots,” Alton coach Will Gordon said. “In the third quarter, we got looks. We just can’t hit shots. Unfortunately, like I told my kids, we don’t have the luxury Collinsville has. I thought on the perimeter defensively, we played pretty well. But we don’t have the luxury of throwing it down on the box to somebody and forcing the help. So we have to live with jump shots.

“I thought we got easy 15-footers ... we got some nice looks. We just didn’t hit them. At our size, if we’re not going to hit shots, we’re going to be in trouble — especially if you’re going to be 3-for-22 in the second half.”

Collinsville got a pair of 3-point plays from Wellmaker and Crochrell in the final minute of the half to forge ahead 31-25, and they came off Alton turnovers.

“Three turnovers to end the half,” Gordon lamented. “I talk to my kids about finishing quarters, playing the whole game. It has been a theme for us all year. We’ve got to be leading the nation in (giving up) 3-point plays. And they’re not even hard 3-point plays.”

After only making 2 of 10 shots in the second quarter, Alton was 0-for-11 in the third quarter and didn’t score again until JaQuail Townser’s free throw with 3:01 remaining.

“I thought we lost our composure tonight in the third quarter,” Gordon said. “They’re teenage kids, and frustration set in. When you can’t hit shots, frustration sets in.”



Collinsville 16 15 11 18 — 60

Alton 18 8 3 8 — 37

Collinsville (8-1, 3-1) – Wellmaker 13, Williams 12, Wilkinson 5, Crochrell 14, Foster 10, Kusnerick 6. 2FG-22, 3FG-1, FT-13, PF-15.

Alton (2-7, 0-4) – Townser 6, Brown 4, Perry 3, Parker 11, Mathews 4, Charles 7, Lawrence 2. 2FG-6, 3FG-5, FT-10, PF-17.

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