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Kahoks Beat Lancers For Belleville East Tourney Crown

Mark Jurgena

A championship game win in overtime…where do you begin?

How about the box-in-one defense? The steal by Devin Davis on East star Jordan Pickett in overtime? Tray Swygeart’s defense on Pickett at the end of regulation? The coaching strategy to take the lead after three?

How about …Collinsville used a 10-2 run in overtime to outlast Belleville East 59-53 to win the Chick-fil-A Classic at East on January 22nd.

It was the second straight Classic championship for the Kahoks who won in 2020 as well and the second time in nine days CHS had beaten the Lancers in Belleville.

“That’s something isn’t it?” said Collinsville coach Darin Lee about the back-to-back titles. “We got back in the tournament a couple of years ago and won six in a row. We played well. We’ve won some close games here. We’ve made some plays to win some close games. It’s just a great thing to see.”

Tied at 49-49 after regulation, Davis got the scoring started in OT by hitting one of two free throws to give CHS the lead just 24 seconds into the extra period

East’s Antwine Wilson got the lead back with a bucket before Nick Horras hit a basket to give CHS the lead for good at 52-51 with 2:46 to go. 

From there the CHS defense shut the Lancers down on their next five possessions.

“We were in the box and we were making anybody shoot but Pickett,” Lee said. “He’s a great player and we wanted to make somebody else beat us.”

That duty had fallen mostly on the shoulders of Dayton Horras for the game. East had made some adjustments to prepare for the box-in-one that held Pickett to nine points on January 14th.

They ran the offense through Pickett at the point and often sent D. Horras through a maze of cuts and screens to stay with him.

“I think they were definitely more ready for it this time,” said Horras. “It was more effective last time, but this time it still got the job done.”

While D. Horras and for a time DeAnte Franklin had to play man the rest of the Kahoks were in a zone defense and helped out when needed.

A sequence with around one minute to go in OT and Collinsville up 54-51 illustrates this point.

Pickett posted up on D. Horras and got the ball about 12 feet from the basket. He turned to his left and he drove to the hoop narrowly getting around the Kahok. It looked like a layup, possibly an and one situation to tie the game.

However, Davis was there to help and stripped the ball from the surprised Lancer. CHS had yet another defensive stop, a three point lead, and the ball.

It led to another bucket by Classic MVP Jake Wilkinson and a 56-51 Kahok lead with 40 seconds to play.

“It was tough,” said Wilkinson. “They were playing us hard. It was just a tough game.”

Collinsville would salt the game away late on a pair of free throws by Swygeart and one by Davis.

Swygeart, who registered a double-double with 16 points and ten rebounds, received a scare as the first half ended. He had to be helped off the floor after tweaking his ankle on the final play of the half.

He returned to the court at the 5:16 mark of the third.

“I knew in my head that my team needed me and I’m going to have to play through it and ice when I get home,” said Swygeart. “It was just a little ankle injury, nothing too bad. I came back out to help my teammates out.”

That help was needed at the end of regulation.

After an East time out with 12 seconds to play, Pickett got the ball at the top of the key. Swygeart came to help D. Horras in the box defense and ended up playing him man. He contested the ten foot shot Pickett was able to put up. It missed and overtime followed.

CHS may never have even been in that position except for one critical occasion when they used their trapping defense to go on a fast 6-0 run.

With Lancer scorers Pickett and Alan Mason on the bench at the 1:12 mark of the third. Lee decided to switch to the half court trap. East wasn’t ready for it and it swung the momentum Collinsville’s way. 

Instead of getting rest the two quickly came back into the game but couldn’t stem the tide as a pair of buckets from Wilkinson and two free throws by Davis gave CHS a sudden 39-38 lead heading into the last eight minutes.

“We like to bust out that trap when they have a unit they haven’t practiced much,” said Lee. “The starting group at this level can really blitz the trap. They probably rarely practice without Pickett on the floor and we would do the same. That’s when we tried to do it and it really helped us.”

In addition to Swygeart, Collinsville had three others in double figures. Wilkinson had 13 points, Davis had 12, and Franklin scored ten.

Kahok Notes: Davis and Swygeart were named all-tourney while Wilkinson was named the tourney MVP. 

-Seniors on this year’s squad include Matt Clark, Davis, Franklin, D. Horras, and Swygeart.

“I know me and my team feel good about it,” said Swygeart. “We’ve played together since the sixth grade and it feels great to win.”

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