COLLINSVILLE — It was tantalizing.
Every time MacArthur looked like it was on the verge of an epic comeback, Collinsville answered back to beat the Generals 88-63 in semifinals of the Collinsville Prairie Farms Holiday Classic on Friday
The Generals trailed by 23, 60-37, with 1:49 left in the third quarter, but by the 6:51 mark in the fourth, MacArthur has cut the lead to 12, 62-50.
Armon Brummett had a layup, then a 3-pointer, then Zach Briggs had a steal, layup and converted a three-point play.
Ray’Sean Taylor, who set a tournament and Collinsville school record, going 29-of-29 from the free-throw line on his way to 43 points, stopped the run with a layup to open the fourth.
But back came MacArthur (6-5). Briggs, who finished with 12 points, hit a triple and Majaleus Thomas-Bond had a putback to draw MacArthur within 12, 62-50.
That was the closest the Generals made the game.
“They showed some fight even though they were losing the game by 20, they got back in the basketball game,” MacArthur coach Ron Ingram said. “I think they were dead tired, and I didn’t sub well. I just left some tired legs in the basketball game.”
Amir and Armon Brummett each scored 19 points to tie for a team high and combined to come up with seven steals, four from Armon and three from Amir.
It was enough to put Collinsville basketball coach Darin Lee on his heels.
“Nervous is not the word. I was heavily concerned,” he said. “I’ve been coaching forever. I’ve lost games like that. Not a lot, but a couple times in my career. That team is as talented as any team we see.”
In the first game on Friday, MacArthur was able to overcome a slow shooting start.
That wasn’t the case in the nightcap.
MacArthur shot 1-of-12 from 3-point land in the first half while Collinsville connected on 6-of-7 from beyond the arc.
Ingram wasn’t particularly enthralled with his teams shot selection.
The Generals finished 6-of-34 from behind the arc.
“We shot too many 3s,” Ingram said. “We didn’t defend (Taylor) well. We let him get by us, we were bumping them. We can’t complain about the referees or officiating or any of that stuff.
“We didn’t run our zone offense like we wanted to, it was just a bad night for us.”
Collinsville led 43-25 at halftime, largely behind 3-point shooting.
The bigs of the Kahoks (8-5) controlled the paint. Sophomores Keydrian Jones (10 points, 5 rebounds) and Aaron Molton (13 points, 8 rebounds) provided a boost to go along with Taylor's play.
Defense did the rest for Collinsville.
Lee made a concerted effort to stop MacArthur’s lethal transition game, and the Brummetts, who erupted against the Kahoks last year in the first round of the same tournament.
“We went to the zone and they didn’t shoot it well in the first half, they were 1-of-12 from the arc,” Lee said. “They’re very streaky, especially the twins. Luckily for us, in the first half, they were on a cold streak and we were on a hot streak. We went 1 out of 7 in the first half from behind the arc and they went 1-of-13. That was probably the ball game right there.”
MacArthur 64, Edwardsville 55
COLLINSVILLE — It didn’t matter that MacArthur nearly played early into Friday morning or that the Generals sat at Vergil Fletcher Gymnasium for nearly four hours Friday afternoon.
They came out with a penchant for running, and run they did, all the way to a win against Edwardsville in the quarterfinals.
Ingram saw something in the scouting report — Edwardsville doesn’t run a deep bench — and wanted to exploit it.
The Tigers played just five players more than six minutes. It was a point for MacArthur to start the fast break and play at a track-meet style tempo.
“I know they’ve got a good program going over there and we know that they went maybe five or six (guys) deep," Ingram said. "Our game plan was to get out an run as much as we can and then try to play very smart basketball. They played smart basketball.”
MacArthur knows its talents, but it also knows its weaknesses.
Finding the balance has been key, and the Generals (6-4) have been walking that line all season.
“We knew we were the more athletic team, but they were more disciplined so we tried to be athletic but also pick up being more disciplined so we could keep with them as not let them run it up,” MacArthur's Armon Brummett said.
The only small sign of fatigue that the Generals (6-4) showed was in their shooting percentages, but that changed in a hurry.
After a 11-for-32 start (34.4 percent) in the first half, MacArthur came out and scorched the nets in the second half, shooting 12-of-17 for 70.6 percent.
An uptick in shooting percentage is indicative of where this team has come.
In the past, a poor shooting performance would have all but doomed the Generals.
“In the past, if we were 0-for-10 in the first half from 3, we would have shot 20 more of them,” Ingram said. “We would have been 0-of-30 last year. This year, we’ve grown up a lot. They’re more patient and much more mature right now.”
All MacArthur had to do was find a way to win and hold off a late Edwardsville rally that saw the Tigers close the gap to nine points in the fourth quarter after trailing by double figures from the 6:39 mark in the second quarter until 5:21 remaining in the fourth quarter.
“It’s really just a maturity thing, growing up from the past years and trying not to get frustrated and trusting your teammates as well as yourself with the shots,” Brummett said. “You do different things to win the game.”
The Brummett twins, Amir and Armon, each scored 15 points, and Travaye Gaines added 10.
Armon was a force on the glass, hauling in eight rebounds — part of MacArthur's 34-25 advantage — and also had three assists and three steals.
“They’re good. They’ve got a lot of long, rangy, athletic guys, they’re well-coached, they really do a good job on both ends of the floor -- offensively and defensively,” Edwardsville coach Mike Waldo said.
Friday's big game came after Thursday’s win against Rockford East where Armon had 24 points.
“He is on another level right now,” Ingram said. “He realizes now that he wants to go play college basketball. He knows what he has to do to go play college basketball. He’s not taking a bunch of crazy shots like he did in the past. He’s playing controlled basketball, getting his teammates involved and doing a lot of good things for us right now.”
But it wasn’t just the starters, or just the Brummetts. Kaeden Lawary scored eight points off the bench and Keenan Ingram scored four and had four assists.
Keenan Ingram is typically a starter for the Generals, but brought a spark off the bench along with Lawary and Majaleus Thomas-Bond.
“Keenan brings great leadership as well as a true point guard,” Armon said. “He can score and put others in a position to score.”