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By Mark Jurgena
Late-game free throws can spoil a great finish.
Against East St. Louis, that’s exactly the way Collinsville liked it.
Collinsville spoiled a furious Flyer rally by draining 5 of 6 free throws in the final minute to take a 56-49 SWC win at Lynx Arena on the former Lindenwood University-Belleville campus.
The win lifted the Kahoks record to 18-9 overall and 5-4 in the SWC while the Flyers dropped to 17-5 overall and 5-3 in conference action.
“They just made a little run, we fouled them on a three and didn’t get a rebound then they got a five-point possession, it was one of those deals,” said CHS coach Darin Lee. “We had a couple of turnovers here and there, but we jumped on them 20-3 at the start of the game so we led from start-to-finish.”
That wire-to-wire lead was in stark contrast to the first contest between the two schools back in December. CHS beat the Flyers 38-37 that night when Jamorie Wysinger’s game winning shot with 8.2 seconds to play gave Collinsville its only lead of the game.
Friday night, CHS ensured an early lead by ripping off five threes, a layup, and three free throws in the opening quarter.
Jake Wilkinson drilled three from long range while Wysinger hit two. Wilkinson had 11 points in the quarter, Wysinger had seven, and Horras contributed two.
Meanwhile, Collinsville’s zone puzzled the Flyers. CHS allowed East St. Louis to make only six shots in the entire first half. They missed all but one of their 13 3-point attempts in the same span.
“Jamorie and Jake jumped on them early,” said Lee. “Again they just couldn’t score against our zone. That’s two games in a row. That’s six quarters in a row they have not been able to get much done on our zone.”
The Kahoks led 27-16 at the half and after a 5-0 run to end the third quarter by Horras and another Wysinger three, CHS led 39-30 heading into the fourth.
With Collinsville up ten in the middle of the stanza, Flyer D’Necco Rucker was fouled shooting a three. He hit the first two shots before missing the last one. However, his hustle claimed the offensive rebound. Eventually, he got the ball back and buried a wide-open three to complete the five-point possession.
CHS led 51-44 with 2:32 to play after Antwan Robinson hit a bucket for the Flyers. From there, things got a little crazy for the Kahoks.
They committed three straight turnovers in the backcourt and gave up several offensive rebounds as their lead dwindled to 51-49 with 1:15 to play.
But a time out settled the purple and white for the stretch run.
Wysinger and Wilkinson each went 2 for 2 from the line in the final minute while Horras hit one as well to secure the win.
For the game Collinsville went 17 for 20 from the free throw line while only shooting 38.5 percent from the floor and 47.4 percent from three.
Wilkinson led CHS with 20 points while Wysinger was right behind with 17. Horras tossed in ten.
Chambers had a huge night on the boards pulling down 11 on the defensive end and 13 total. He added a pair of blocked shots and stood as a foreboding presence in the middle of the zone.
“Zach is really a factor in there, he rebounded the ball well,” said Lee. “With their size we did a few things differently offensively. We go with where we think we have advantages and we didn’t think we had an advantage there with their big 6-9 and 6-10 kids in there.
“But he did a really good job defensively. With his size, you can’t just drive in there and shoot it.”
The Flyers ended up shooting 30.2 percent from the floor and 17.2 percent from 3-point range.
CHS 52 Lift for Life Academy 47
The Kahoks flipped the script.
On Jan. 18 St. Louis (Lift for Life Academy) used hot shooting from three, solid post defense and 11 for 12 free throw shooting in the final quarter to take a 52-47 win over Collinsville at the Chick-fil-A Classic at Belleville East.
On Jan. 31, the Kahoks used five second half threes from Jamorie Wysinger and clutch free throw shooting in the final quarter to overtake LFL for a 59-55 win at Fletcher Gym.
The victory – without Jake Wilkinson who was sick – raised the CHS record to 17-9 on the season while the Hawks dropped to 10-8.
“Without Jake, he’s one of our top two scorers, to come through without him, we got a big fourth quarter from Wysinger,” said Lee.
Wysinger – who scored a game high 25 points – was on fire from three in the second half hitting five of them over the final 16 minutes.
He buried a three from the left corner to give the Kahoks the lead for good at 49-46 with 4:48 to play and capitalized on an LFL turnover with another triple to extend the lead 46 seconds later.
That was quite different from the first meeting when he had a total of nine points and made only two threes.
“He didn’t shoot it very well last game (against LFL) and this time he did,” Lee said. “He hit three in a row in the fourth quarter.”
But he wasn’t the only CHS player shooting well, the Kahoks went 9 for 17 from the floor including 5 for 7 from three. Ultimately it was their 11 for 12 performance from the free throw line in the second half that made the difference.
For the night they went 17 for 21 from the charity stripe including 5 for 6 in the last 1:15 of the game.
Wysinger hit all four of his free throws in the final minute and Zach Chambers added another. Adam Rimar also hit a pair of early fourth quarter free throws.
Those charity tosses were necessary because Collinsville couldn’t consistently get the ball inside.
CHS had a clear size advantage inside with the 6 foot 8 Chambers and 6 foot 6 Adam Rimar down low. The Kahoks looked to exploit their height advantage in the opening half and were somewhat successful as the duo had 14 of their 25 points at the break.
But with the Hawks playing in front of Chambers the angles for the entry passes proved to be difficult for the CHS guards as several turnovers occurred trying to get the ball down low.
“They were applying a lot of pressure to the ball, that was the biggest problem,” said Lee.
As the second half wore on, the Kahoks moved Chambers away from posting up down low, spaced the floor more and got much better looks at the basket.
“We just spread it out because we just couldn’t get the ball where we needed to by passing the ball,” Lee said. “It was frustrating but that was what it was.”
Even more frustrating considering Chambers had hit his last 12 shots in a row when the Belleville West game was included.
For their part, the CHS bigs did alter countless shots throughout the game and Chambers had two big blocked shots as CHS was trying to retake the lead early in the fourth.
In addition to Wysinger’s big game, Nick Horras had 13 points while Chambers had 10.
Rimar led the Kahoks with 10 rebounds, while Horras piled up seven assists. Chambers led with two blocked shots.
Collinsville hosted O’Fallon Tuesday night in a key SWC matchup however results were unavailable at press time. Saturday night they play in St. Louis City against Miller Career Academy. They travel to Edwardsville on Tuesday.