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Defense is key in Titans’ romp

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They dominate game in 2nd half

By Josh Cook

The Collins boys’ basketball team shook off a slow start before hitting its stride Tuesday night.

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The Titans, who trailed visiting Woodford County by one point at halftime and only led by two points late in the third quarter, outscored the Yellow Jackets, 25-7, during the final 8 minutes and 38 seconds on their way to a 62-42 victory.

“It wasn’t pretty, but we walked away with some good things, like holding them to forty-two points,” said Collins Coach Chris Gaither, whose team won it seventh consecutive game.

After digging themselves an early hole – they trailed by five at the end of the first quarter and nine early in the second – thanks to some icy shooting, the Titans trimmed their deficit to one (26-25) at halftime.

Collins (17-2) took the lead early in the third quarter before putting the hammer down on Woodford (11-10) late as it outscored the Yellow Jackets, 37-16, and held them to 4-for-20 shooting after intermission. 

“We buckled down and played great D,” said Titans senior forward Ralphie Stone, who had game-highs in points (19) and rebounds (15). “Communication on defense, that was the big thing.”

Woodford County hit four 3-pointers in the first period but only three in the final three as Collins held the Yellow Jackets to 33.3 percent shooting (14-for-42) for the game.

“We just didn’t play defense in the first half, and we missed some layups early on,” said Gaither, whose team shot 36.4 percent in the first half and 50 percent in the second. “The first half was a little letdown, but the guys responded at halftime.”

Led by Stone’s yeoman’s effort, the Titans also limited Woodford on the backboard. Collins outrebounded the Yellow Jackets, 39-20, including, 9-2, on the offensive end.

“I told them before the game that we haven’t had anyone get more than twelve rebounds in a game this season.…So it’s good to see that,” Gaither said of Stone, as well as the Titans’ collective rebounding effort.  

The Titans took a 9-point lead midway through the third quarter before Woodford County whittled that down to two late in the period. But that’s when Collins came on.

Brent Kidwell’s baseline jumper with 38 seconds left in the third started the Titans’ game-ending surge. Thirty-two seconds later junior guard Deion Cochran hit three free throws after being fouled while attempting a 3-pointer.

Senior wing Lawson Page started the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer, then Cochran scored inside off a feed from Stone before Woodford stopped Collins’ 11-0 run with one free throw.

Moments later, though, senior reserve guard Jayon Winstead assisted Page’s third 3-pointer of the half, boosting the Titans’ lead to 51-36.  

“If we can get Lawson and Deion and some other guys to make some [outside] shots to extend the defense our offensive efficiency is going to go way up,” Gaither said.

Page and Kidwell tallied 10 points apiece, and Cochran added nine for Collins, which also got six points and five rebounds from senior reserve Caleb Vogel.

The Titans put away the game at the free throw line, where they hit 19 of 24 (79.2 percent).

Collins hosts Louisville Eastern at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in its Homecoming. The Titans then host Grayson County on Tuesday before playing at third-ranked Trinity on Wednesday.