COLLINSVILLE – What started as a promising night ended as a disappointing one Thursday for the Alton girls’ basketball team.
The Redbirds shot ahead early on the Collinsville Kahoks, then wilted near the finish and sustained a 65-43 Southwestern Conference defeat. Alton dropped to 2-7 overall and 2-3 in the SWC. Collinsville improved to 6-3 and 1-3.
“Our biggest problem is our defense,” second-year AHS coach Bobby RIckman said. “When we turned things around last season, it was because of our defense.
“We will play good defense at times this season, but we haven’t done it consistently. Right now, I don't know the answer."
An inconsistent offense also hampered the Redbirds. They came out quickly in building a 14-5 lead in the first quarter. Thanks to LaJarvia Brown’s nine points, Alton led 16-9 just eight minutes into the game.
Yet that’s when things began to unravel for the Birds at Vergil Fletcher Gym. They committed 12 second-quarter turnovers and Brown didn’t net a point. Collinsville forged ahead 23-22 by the break and led 39-35 after three quarter. The Kahoks then used a 26-point fourth quarter to frustrate the Redbirds and turn a close game into a rout. Overall, Alton had 23 turnovers.
“We have to do a better job of taking care of the ball, too,” Rickman said. “We have too many people standing around and we aren’t playing 5-on-5.”
Brown finished with 13 points, best for the Redbirds. However, she didn’t score in the second and third quarters. Cheriena Mitchell contributed seven points, while teammates Konnie Miller, Jewel Wagner and Chayvon Buckingham netted six points apiece.
Kahoks’ coach Lori Billy pointed to a change in the Collinsville defense for switching the momentum to the home team.
“We were playing a zone defense the first quarter and that wasn’t working the way we wanted it,” Billy said. “We talked about what we needed to do in trying to contain Brown. So we went to a man-to-man defense.”
When the Redbirds’ turnovers began to mount, the Kahoks’ offense started percolating. Caity Brombolich, niece of former Collinsville standout Kim Brombolich, spurred the winners. The junior scored a game-best 16 points, thanks in part to a trio of treys.
“She had a huge game,” Billy said. “It was her best one of the season. She was solid.”
Collinsville also scored its first conference victory of the season. The Kahoks were 4-0 at one point after winning the Nashville Tournament.
“We really needed a win,” Billy said. “We were trying to get the ball inside most of the night and we finally figured out how to do it.”
Reserve Gabby Morgan collected 11 points and Kassidy Smith punched in 10 more to complement Brombolich’s production. The Kahoks benefited from accurate free throw shooting to pad their second-half advantage. They converted 17 of 20 foul shots, including 15 of 18 the last two quarters.
The schedule doesn’t get any easier for Alton. Next up for the Redbirds is the State Farm Holiday Invitational that runs Dec. 27-29 in Jefferson City, Mo.
“It’s the toughest tournament that we have been in for some time,” Rickman said.
Alton resumes SWC play Jan. 6 at home against Belleville East.
COLLINSVILLE 65, ALTON 43
Alton 16 6 13 8 – 43
Collinsville 9 14 16 26 – 65
Alton (2-7, 2-3) – Brown 13, Paulda 3, Miller 6, Wagner 6, Buckingham 6, Mitchell 7, Dale 2. 2FG-18 3FG-1 FT-4 PF-16
Collinsville (6-3, 1-3) – Brady 9, Morgan 11, Smith 10, Buettner 6, Fischer 2, Mahan 5, Brombolich 16, Ashmann 4, Mitchell 2. 2FG-18 3FG-4 FT-17 PF-20