By Mark Jurgena
The stunning accomplishments of last season’s Collinsville Kahoks on the basketball floor are now part of the Kahok tradition.
It is on to a new season.
Collinsville has only two starters from last year’s 26-6 team that won the Class 4A Granite City Regional, their 44th in CHS history but fell to Quincy in the opening round of the sectional on a buzzer-beater.
Those two returners were key contributors last season.
Senior Jake Wilkinson returns to the lineup with his 9.8 points per game average. He was named a second-team all-conference performer one season ago. Wilkinson was named the Belleville East Chick-fil-A Classic Tournament MVP last January as well.
Junior Nick Horras is the other returning regular to the lineup. He was a third-team all-conference performer last season. Horras averaged 7.6 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 1.78 assists per game during the 2021-22 season.
After that, well CHS has some holes to fill.
“We’ve got a couple of returning starters and some guys that played a little varsity basketball,” began longtime CHS coach Darin Lee. “Last year we went small and had some interchangeable parts. We won’t be able to have that this year. We will always have a postman out there this year, I mean a big guy. So at times, it may make it tough for us to defend away from the basket. We will really have to work hard.”
CHS will miss the size and athleticism of guard/forwards Devin Davis, Tray Swygeart, Matt Clark, and DeAnte Franklin from last season’s team. They were able to switch easily on ball screens on the perimeter.
“We’re still working our way through how we are going to handle ball screens out top,” said Lee. “It won’t be as easy as it was last year for us.”
Offensively Horras and Jamorie Wysinger look to handle the ball while Zach Chambers and Adam Rimar are big men who will occupy the post for the Kahoks.
KJ Thorps-Watt will see time this year as a wing player as well.
Lee sees East St. Louis, O’Fallon, and Belleville West as the top teams in the Southwestern Conference this season.
Collinsville begins the season at the Mascoutah Tip-Off Classic Monday against Marion at 6 p.m and Tuesday against the host school at 7:30 p.m. They will play Riverview Gardens, Mo. at 6 p.m. Friday before having a crossover game with the corresponding place finisher of the Tip-Off Classic pool that is being hosted by Trenton (Wesclin).
After a trip to Belleville East on Dec. 2, their home opener will be on Dec. 6 against Belleville West.
Lee begins the season only four wins away from 700 for his career as a varsity head basketball coach and only six away from coaching in his 1,000th game as a head coach in high school basketball competition.
Please consult the related story in this edition of the Times-Tribune.