O’FALLON, Ill. With a five-game losing streak that stretched from Dec. 18 to Jan. 10, life was rough for the Collinsville girls basketball team. But the Kahoks are suddenly finding a way to win.
On Thursday, Collinsville picked up its fourth victory in five games, defeating host O’Fallon 64-61. The Kahoks improved to 9-10 overall and 5-5 in the Southwestern Conference.
“We’re at a point right now where I feel like things are starting to click for us,” Collinsville coach Lori Billy said. “We’re figuring some things out, but defensively we’ve still got a few things to work on. We went on a run at the end and we were able to knock some shots down.”
O’Fallon (5-13, 1-8) rallied from deficits of eight and 10 points to either tie the game or take the lead, but the Panthers couldn’t come back in the closing seconds.
“It was a game of runs, but we came out really flat offensively,” O’Fallon coach Ryan Massey said. “In a lot of high school basketball games, 61 points is enough to win, my hat is off to Collinsville because we couldn’t stop them.”
A layup by sophomore Aubreeney Brady put Collinsville ahead 12-10 after one quarter. Two free throws by Katie McCarthy boosted the Kahoks’ lead to 23-15 midway through the second quarter, but a trey by O’Fallon’s Jourdan Phillips tied the score at 27 at halftime.
“We had to keep our composure and be patient and keep the fouls down,” said Brady, who had a game-high 17 points. “We’ve come together and we’ve got a team bond now. We’ve gotten to know each other better and it’s starting to pay off.”
Collinsville came out strong in the third quarter, going up 41-31 on a 3-pointer by Julie Scheiter with 4:37 remaining. Once again, though, O’Fallon bounced back, taking a 49-47 lead on two free throws by Ciara Jones with 6:32 to play in the fourth quarter.
McCarthy, who scored 12 of her 14 points in the second half, hit a 3-pointer with 2:34 remaining that put Collinsville ahead to stay at 58-55. A pair of free throws by Brady made the score 62-57 with 1:19 to play.
“Katie hit some big threes and she’s been doing that lately,” Billy said of McCarthy, a senior. “At the beginning of the season, she was really struggling, but now she’s really gotten solid for us.”
“For a while, I wasn’t even looking at shooting because I knew that my shot was off,” McCarthy said. “My (knee) injury from last year has been coming back a little bit, but I’ve been working on my shot more after practice and I’m getting back into a rhythm.”
O’Fallon pulled to within 62-61 on a rebound basket by Chloe Luster with 39 seconds on the clock, but a free throw by Scheiter with four seconds left accounted for the final margin.
Jasmine Bonds led O’Fallon with 14 points, while Luster added 13.
The teams combined for 29 turnovers in the first half – 15 for Collinsville and 14 for O’Fallon. Each team had only five turnovers in the second half.
“It was quite a bit cleaner in the second half,” Massey said. “My girls tried to execute our game plan and tried to pressure the ball full-court, but the girls from Collinsville were very calm inbounding the ball. They were patient and they handled it very well.”
Collinsville was playing without leading scorer Karla Halde, who had the flu. Junior Lexie Thompson is done for the season after suffering a torn ACL in a 45-23 loss to Belleville West on Jan. 10.
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