GODFREY – Before Tuesday’s game, the Alton Redbirds presented career 1,000-point scorer LaJarvia Brown with a spiffy commemorative Rawlings basketball in honor of her accomplishment.
The Redbirds should have put that ball in play against the Collinsville Kahoks. The one they used had too many turnovers for their liking.
Alton made 29 turnovers and bowed to Collinsville, 53-35, in a Southwestern Conference girls’ game. The Kahoks, sweeping the Redbirds this season, improved to 13-11 overall and 5-6 in the SWC. The Birds, losing for the seventh time in eight games, sank to 5-19 and 3-9.
“We had five turnovers in our first eight possessions,” AHS coach Bobby Rickman said. “When you do that, it’s hard to be successful.”
Megan Paulda of the Redbirds hit a 3-pointer to start the game, but then the Kahoks went on a 16-point spree. They led 27-17 at half and then used a 10-0 binge in the third quarter to pad their advantage.
It seemed when Collinsville put some pressure on the Redbirds, they had trouble handling it. The Redbirds also made only 15 of 44 shots.
“We talked about how fast they (Redbirds) were and how quick they can shoot,” Kahoks’ coach Lori Billy said. “So we wanted to play good defense and we were pretty effective with it.”
In addition to Alton’s glut of turnovers — 10 in the first quarter — the Redbirds had to play most of the way with Brown in foul trouble. The 5-foot-3 junior guard scored a game-best 14 points, but she had two fouls in the first quarter, three before halftime and four just one minute into the third quarter.
“She’s a difference-maker for them and we tried to contain her as much as possible,” Billy said.
Brown netted nine of her points in the second half and punched in three fourth-quarter baskets before she fouled out with 1:34 remaining. Overall, she connected on 6 of 10 shots, including a pair of treys.
“We are a different team when LaJarvia isn’t in the game or if she’s in foul trouble,” Rickman said. “We can’t press on defense and LaJarvia creates opportunities for us on offense. She opens up things.”
Paulda (seven points) and Jewel Wagner (six points) complemented her point work. Brown has now scored 1,015 points in nearly three seasons.
However, Rickman realizes the Redbirds need everybody to chip in with points if they are going to be successful.
“It gets back to the fact that we put some people in situations where they have opportunities to be successful,” he said. “But they aren’t being successful and it’s just frustrating.”
He added, “We aren’t playing up to our potential. We are playing as individuals and not as a team. Not everybody is on the same page and it shows.”
No fewer than 10 players scored for Collinsville. Aubreeny Brady, a 5-5 senior guard, led the Kahoks with 12 points on 6-for-8 shooting. Collinsville made 20 of 52 shots and 8 of 14 free throws. Alton was 0-for-1 from the foul line.
“She’s a difference-maker for us and she’s very quick,” Billy said of Brady. The Kahoks’ coach is eyeing a fast finish for her team.
Billy said, “We’d like to get on a little run the last part of the season. What we need to do is put together four quarters of solid basketball every game.”
The Redbirds welcome Belleville West (Feb. 10) and Edwardsville (Feb. 12) prior to playing host to a five-team Class 4A regional. Rickman is hoping for a No. 3 seed at AHS, where Edwardsville, Pekin, Quincy and Granite City will join the Redbirds.
COLLINSVILLE 53, ALTON 35
Collinsville 16 11 14 12 – 53
Alton 9 8 8 10 – 35
Collinsville (13-11, 5-6) – Aubreeny Brady 12, Gabby Morgan 4, Kassidy Smith 7, Samantha Buettner 3, Carlee Mahan 6, Caity Brombolich 7, Andrea Frerker 2, Hayleigh Kellison 4, Danielle Knutson 3, Claire Schuessler 5. 2FG-16 3FG-4 FT-8 PF-5
Alton (5-19, 3-9) – LaJarvia Brown 14, Megan Paulda 7, Konnie Miller 3, Jewel Wagner 6, Chayvon Buckingham 2, Ayonna Clanton 3. 2FG-10 3FG-5 FT-0 PF-17