HERRIN — Collinsville broke open a close game with a 10-0 run in the middle of the first quarter to cruise to a 64-33 win over Marion in the opening game of the Pyramid Plus Boys Basketball Tournament hosted by Herrin High School.
“Here’s the deal — you’re talking about a very good basketball team,” said Marion coach Gus Gillespie. “We didn’t return one second of playing time from last year — Korey Houston and Jackson Connor were out. I’ve been coaching a long time (but) I’ve never had a team you don’t return one second. So after the initial shock and awe and 26 points, we did alright the second, third and fourth quarter. We were playing against one of the more talented teams we’ll see the entire season with a team that didn’t return one second of play. We did some nice things.”
The Kahoks were led by junior guard Ray’Sean Taylor with 18 points, followed by 13 points from senior guard Marshall Harrison and 11 by junior guard Cawhan Smith.
The Kahoks forced the Wildcats into 28 turnovers for the game, including 19 steals.
“We can play in transition — there’s no question about that,” said Collinsville coach Darin Lee. “Obviously it’s early for Marion with a lot of new guys, so we thought we could put them into some positions where guys have to handle the ball and make decisions. We were able to do that.”
Marion jumped out to the early lead when senior forward Mitchell Jackson canned a 3-pointer from the left side a minute after he won the tip-off and topped it to Brett Lewis.
However, over the next 1:20, the Kahoks went on a 10-0 run, stealing the ball three times and scoring five points in transition to turn the three-point deficit into a seven-point lead.
Marion cut the lead back to four on a free throw by Hunter Campbell followed by a steal and a layup by Boston Zeigler, but Collinsville closed out the first quarter on a 16-3 run to take a 26-9 lead into the second quarter.
“We moved the ball, but then they turned up the heat,” Gillespie said. “We turned the ball over, and you can’t do that and win basketball games. We’re young with no experience, and with all that said, I saw some good things the second, third and fourth quarters.”
Collinsville extended its lead to 23 points to open the second quarter and held onto that margin until Cavan Cameron split a pair of free throws followed a 3-pointer from the left corner to cut the lead 19 at the half.
Collinsville pulled away in the third quarter in the last 3:41 to take a 25-point lead into the fourth quarter, and extended it to the 31 with 4:41 remaining.
Campbell led the Wildcats with eight points followed by seven each from Ziegler and Lewis.
In the second game, Mount Vernon held a three-point lead after the first quarter and a 29-22 lead at the half. The Rams extended their lead to 10 points after the third quarter and finished strong to beat Mounds Meridian, 68-50.
“It was nice to get a win to start out,” said Mount Vernon coach Doug Creel. “Meridian shot the tar out of the ball — making a ton of 3’s. I didn’t think our effort was bad, but we have to be a little more patient offensively. However, once we got the lead, we were about to stretch it out.”
Junior Amir Spann led the game with 30 points, which included 10 baskets from the field and a perfect 10-for-10 from the line. Senior Norris Young from Meridian wasn’t far behind, with 27 points.
Carterville beat Herrin in the late nitecap, 60-51.
The tournament continues Wednesday with Meridian playing Herrin at 5:30 followed by Carterville and Collinsville and Marion against Mount Vernon.