By Mark Jurgena, Reporter
Basketball is a game of runs, and Collinsville used seven significant runs to subdue previously unbeaten Mundelein 63-48 last Monday to win their own Prairie Farms Holiday Classic.
It was their fifth title at the PFHC and first since 2004. It was also redemption for the Kahoks who had fallen the previous two seasons in the title game to Springfield Southeast.
“It was very important to win the tournament. We were the favorites going in. We lost two tough championship games the last two years, last year especially having an 8-10 point lead in the 4th quarter, that one really haunted us for a long time,” coach Darin Lee said.
The first CHS run began when Ray’Sean Taylor hit a three off the dribble at the 4:05 mark of the first to give the Kahoks a 5-3 lead.
A steal by Keydrian Jones off an entry pass to 6-8 junior sensation Scottie Ebube led to a layup by Cawhan Smith and put CHS up 7-3. Then two free throws by Taylor gave the Kahoks a 9-3 lead after one.
David Granger secured the quarter advantage as he swatted a layup attempt by the Mustangs Conor Enright off the glass as time expired.
“He can really elevate and protect the rim. It’s more in practice but he’s getting to where he can do it in games and swat it out of there and that’s important,” commented Lee.
Collinsville forced six Mustang turnovers in the quarter.
“I think runs are dictated by getting stops defensively and that’s what we did. We got a lot of stops early. We didn’t let them get into a rhythm offensively and took away some of their three point shooters,” said Lee.
The Kahoks defense also used a combination of Jones, Granger and Josh Chambers to push Ebube outside and out of his comfort zone. Additionally they put him on the free throw line where he went 5-14 for the game.
“We really felt it was an important thing to keep him off the block and try to limit him. We knew we were going to burn some fouls. It was important to have multiple big guys in there on him,” Lee said.
That theory was put to the test early in the 2nd quarter when Jones picked up two quick fouls which sat him down. Mundelein attacked their perceived mismatch but Ebube went 0-2 from the floor with one free throw while Jones was out.
Great post defense by Granger with help from Nate Hall stymied Ebube.
“That was important. I was really concerned without KJ in there. David really battled. I was worried about him getting moved around by Ebube,” Lee said.
Taylor and Lorent Dzeladini often dug down on the post to help on the big man.
With Mundelein struggling against the CHS defense, the Kahoks continued their onslaught with another 7-0 run to begin the second.
Dzeladini had a nice step through move for two from the left elbow and Smith scored on a runout.
After a timeout, Hall nailed a three at the 6:07 mark for a 16-3 Kahok advantage.
Mundelein would cut the advantage to five late in the half but a quick 7-2 run by CHS would help get the lead to 27-19 at half.
Hall hit a three at the 2:37 mark followed by another runout layup by Smith off a Taylor steal. Two more Taylor free throws capped the run.
Thanks to the CHS defense, Ebube and Enright combined for only six points in the half.
To begin the 2nd half, two jumpers by Hall and a free throw by Jones increased the lead to 13 points and forced another Mustang time out.
“Especially with our starters we can run some pretty good sets. With a couple of other things we did in our half court offense, we got some two man plays,”said Lee.
After an Enright three, CHS went on a 12-2 run on six points from Taylor and two points each from Dzeladini, Smith, and Hall.
Hall’s reverse layup with :53 remaining in the third gave CHS its largest lead at 44-24, but MHS would cut the lead to 14 by the quarter break.
Collinsville began the fourth with a 6-1 run on two buckets by Hall and two free throws by Taylor.
CHS had one more run in them during the fourth.
After a Dzeladini bucket at the 3:57 mark, Taylor hit two free throws for a 16 point advantage.
On the next possession, Granger took a charge down low from Ebube to bring the crowd to its feet.
Two free throws by Dzeladini and one by Taylor finished the job.
An overlooked aspect of the game was the job Dzeladini did defensively on Mundelein’s Trey Baker. Baker ended 3-15 from the floor and 2-10 from three. He entered the game shooting 9-20 from three for the tourney, a 45% clip.
“Lorent did a really nice job guarding Baker. Baker has been really effective at hitting threes and he didn’t get much going. Lorent really plays his role for us well,” Lee said.
For the game, Taylor had 26 points, seven assists, six rebounds, and five steals.
Hall added 17 points and eight rebounds.
Jones grabbed seven boards while Smith had five assists.
Mundelein outrebounded CHS 35-32 with Ebube grabbing 12. The Kahoks and Mustangs were dead even on the defensive glass at 21 each.
-CHS had won The Classic in 1990,1995, 2001 and 2004.
-Jones, Smith and Taylor were named to the all-tourney team. Taylor won the Ed Sarhage MVP trophy.
-Taylor became the fourth Kahok to win MVP honors for The Classic. The others were Vernell Coates (2001), Terry Tessary (2000) and Richard Keene (1990).
-Taylor became one of only three Kahoks to be named to the all-tourney team three times. The others were Alex Dow (2003-05) and Tessary (1998-2000).
-Taylor led the tourney in points, assists, steals, field goals made, free throw attempts and free throws made.
-At the Carterville Tourney in the first week of the season CHS had 42 steals as a team in four games. At The Classic they had 43 in four games.
-Collinsville was ranked #26 in the nation by Max Preps on January 1, 2020.