By Mark Jurgena, Reporter
There were two battles being waged Saturday for the Chick-fil-A Belleville East Tournament crown.
On the one end, Collinsville’s Ray’Sean Taylor hit a dizzying array of shots.
On the other end Keydrian Jones, David Granger, Nate Hall and Josh Chambers were battling for every inch of paint with St.Louis Trinity 7-0 postman Luke Kalkbrenner.
Collinsville won both battles to claim a 77-57 victory and their third tournament crown of the season.
“They’re a very good team. Obviously Ray’Sean scored the basketball a variety of ways. They didn’t have an answer to stop him. He’s just an electric scorer, I don’t know what to say…it’s unreal,” said coach Darin Lee.
Offensively Taylor hit reverse layups, layups with english, a Curly Neal type play and even a 15 foot fade away over Kalkbrenner.
He set the school record with 53 points.
While Kalkbrenner, a Creighton commit, was altering shots in the paint, Taylor was busy finding ways to counter his presence.
“I’m trying to eliminate his shot blocking. If I dish it I know he can hurt, but recover because he’s 7-foot. But if I can go into his body he can’t get there like he usually can,” said Taylor.
He had three acrobatic layups in the first half starting on one side of the basket going around the big man and laying it up on the other side.
CHS was up 22-21 late in the first when Taylor went on an 13-0 run by himself.
Taylor had 26 points.
On the defensive end, Jones was busy battling for supremacy in the paint by pushing Kalkbrenner far away from the basket.
“I had to keep him off the boards and make him feel uncomfortable. So I just played real hard and tried to keep him from what he usually does,” said Jones.
Kalkbrenner was averaging 24 points in the tournament but was limited to 12 by the physical CHS defense.
“Coach (Zac) Bilyeu has us working hard in the workroom and coach Pop (Mike Popovich). This week we did a lot of stuff with weights. I feel like it got me a little bigger. I had to show how strong I really was,” said Jones.
In the 2nd half, Taylor and Kalkbrenner battled in the paint. The Trinity big man blocked two of Taylor’s shots but Taylor drew four fouls from him including the fifth with 2:40 to play.
“He got me once or twice but obviously I got to go back in there. I’ve got a lot of different things I can do,” Taylor said.
Taylor broke his previous best of 43 points at the 4:06 mark of the 4th when he took many in the crowd back to the ABC show Wide World of Sports and Harlem Globetrotter great Curly Neal. Taylor spun out of a double team, fell to the floor, somehow kept his dribble, got up and dashed to the basket for a reverse layup past Kalkbrenner.
He broke the tourney record of 47 points by former Chaminade star Jericole Hellums when he drew the 5th foul on the big man. Hellums is at North Carolina State.
He broke Tom Parker’s 1967 record on a steal and breakaway one handed jam with 2:04 to go putting CHS up 72-52. He added two free throws on a technical foul by the Trinity bench with 1:15 to play to put CHS up 25.
After the game, Taylor was focused on the team.
“It’s surreal. My senior year to come out and do what we are doing. We still got stuff to accomplish. I’m prepared for it, we’ve just got to keep working. But obviously I’ve got to enjoy this moment.” said Taylor.
Taylor was 19-36 from the floor and 2-6 from three. He hit 13-20 at the line.
For the third game in a row the Kahoks were outrebounded, this time 37-33.
Jones led in rebounds with eight. Taylor and Granger each had six.
For Trinity, Central Michigan recruit Rashad Weekly had 24 points while Kalkbrenner had his fifth straight double-double with 12 points and 10 boards.
Semifinals: CHS 80 Alton 54
At the 6:15 mark of the 1st quarter Alton took a time out.
They were down 13-0 and had only taken three shots.
Meanwhile CHS was 4-for-4 from the floor.
Such was the story of the Kahoks 80-54 semifinal win last Friday.
Collinsville ended up 8-11 from the field (with four threes) that quarter to stake themselves to a 26-13 lead.
The Redbirds made 2-13 shots.
The CHS lead swelled to 21 after back-to-back threes from Hall and a run out layup by Taylor.
The layup was the result of a Smith deflection to Granger who got the outlet pass to Taylor.
Collinsville upped its lead to 28 points after a Taylor tip-in closed out an 8-0 run to start the 2nd half.
The lead was 26 points after Smith hit a jumper off the dribble inside the key just before the buzzer to end the third.
The Kahok defense continued to stifle Alton as the Redbirds only shot 2-10 from the field in the quarter.
Twice the lead reached 29 points in the final stanza.
Taylor went for 29 points, five rebounds and five assists.
Three others were in double figures including Lorent Dzeladini with 13, Hall with 11 and Jones had 10.
For the second straight game CHS was outrebounded. Alton won that battle 36-35.
But CHS was dominant on the defensive glass winning that battle 27-18.
Dzeladini had eight boards while Hall had seven.
Quarterfinals: CHS 64 Althoff 39
CHS forced six turnovers to fuel a 16-4 1st quarter run to give CHS a big lead. They broke the game open late in the 3rd quarter.
Taylor and Hall worked an inside/outside game to perfection during the initial run. Taylor buried two triples while Hall worked in the paint for three buckets.
Taylor added a three late in the quarter to put CHS up 19-9 after one.
They added to their lead with an 8-2 burst to end the half courtesy of six points from Taylor and a Granger bucket at the buzzer to go up 15.
The final blow came late in the third on a 10-0 run.
Taylor had 24 points, five rebounds and seven assists.
Hall had 12 points as did Smith.
Collinsville was outrebounded by Althoff 28-24 including 19-17 on the defensive glass.
-Collinsville was #1 in the large school stlhighschoolsports.com poll, #3 in the Illinois Class 4A poll, and in the poll dated January 21, the Kahoks were ranked #19 in the USA according to Max Preps.
-Trinity was the 3rd ranked team in the stlhighschoolsports.com small school poll.
-Taylor was named MVP of the tourney. Smith was also named to the team.