HIGHLAND, Ill. — Ray’Sean Taylor wanted the last shot.
Only he didn’t plan on taking it Saturday afternoon.
A dynamic senior guard for the Collinsville boys basketball team, Taylor held the ball and let the clock run down. With about eight seconds to go in overtime, he initiated the play by attacking the basket. When De Smet sent the double team, he immediately found senior guard Cawhan "Skeet" Smith alone in the left corner.
Smith set his feet, let the ball fly and as the buzzer sounded watched his game-winner tickle the twine to help Collinsville remain undefeated with a thrilling 50-47 win over De Smet at the 29th Highland Shootout at Highland High.
“I saw him the whole time but I wanted to get him more open and I wanted the absolute last shot so I waited,” Taylor said. “I knew he was going to hit it.”
The No. 1 large school in the STLhighschoolsports.com rankings, Collinsville (17-0) had a whale of a time adjusting to the size De Smet brings to the interior. Junior posts Sekou Gassama (6-foot-10) and Yaya Keita (6-foot-9) take up a lot of space and make it tough to work inside-out. The Kahoks were unable to get any production from senior center Keydrian Jones and junior post David Granger. Both were held scoreless as was junior center Josh Chambers, who came in late when foul troubles were plaguing Collinsville’s bigs.
“We probably tried to shoot over them a few too many times. They’re big and it took some of the things away we were trying to do,” Collinsville coach Darin Lee said. “It’s hard to go in there when there’s 6-10. It’s something we haven’t seen. We couldn’t get any post up buckets. It changes the way we try to do things.”
Taylor, a Southern Illinois Edwardsville signee, remained relentless. He attacked with abandon and provided the Kahoks with what they needed when they needed it. He finished with a game-high 26 points, nine rebounds, six assists and six steals to earn most valuable player honors after the game. He said it took some adjusting.
“You have to box out harder,” Taylor said. “They were in the game because they were on the glass. Props to them but you have to push the pace, make them run and get them a little tired.”
The No. 7 large school, De Smet (9-4) was fresh off Friday night’s win over CBC, it’s first in 17 tries against its rival.
The Spartans were also without sophomore swingman Brennan Lovette, who rolled his ankle Friday night and couldn’t get it right to play on Saturday. With its sixth man out of commission, De Smet needed someone to step up and fill the scoring void. Senior forward Michael Skoff provided the offensive punch as he led the Spartans with 20 points. He grabbed six rebounds and spent much of afternoon trying to keep Taylor in front of him a night after his primary responsibility was CBC senior guard and North Carolina signee Caleb Love.
“Mike stepped up as a senior,” De Smet coach Kent Williams said. “That’s what you want your senior to do with a tough turnaround from last night to today to come out and fight and he did.”
Junior guard Thomas Redmond scored 11 points.
Keita grabbed eight rebounds and buried a pair of free throws with 2 minutes and 16 seconds to play in the fourth quarter that tied the game at 42. He finished with seven points.
Collinsville elected to hold the ball for the last shot and ran it down inside 10 seconds. Taylor went into the lane but was unable to convert when the De Smet defense collapsed on him. The Spartans’s desperation heave with less than a second left fell well short.
In overtime, De Smet got a nice jumper from Skoff and Keita hit the first of two free throws to give it a 45-42 lead.
Then Smith gave the capacity crowd a preview of what was to come. Taylor found him in the right corner for a wide-open 3-pointer to tie it with 2:02 to go in overtime. Smith then hit a pair of free throws to give the Kahoks a lead with 48.2 seconds.
Skoff answered on the other end when he grabbed a rebound off his own missed shot and stuck it back in with 28 seconds. De Smet took a timeout to set up its defense.
“We said in our timeout, the last few times we’d been helping off,” Williams said. “I said no more helping off of (Smith).”
De Smet talked about it but when Taylor took his sweet time waiting for the clock to run down, it forced the Spartans to make a choice. Smith made sure it was the wrong one.
“(Other teams) always double off of me because they think I can’t shoot or something,” Smith said. “I’m going to knock it down if I’m wide open. As soon as it went in I knew it was game over.”
Smith finished with 17 points, five rebounds, two assists and three steals. He played all four quarters Friday night against Belleville East and still had his legs despite playing every minute of Saturday’s game.
“That’s a lot. He’s a warrior. He never gets tired. He’s an amazing kid,” Lee said. “He’s a great point guard.”