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|Willard O. Larson|
|COACHED 13 YEARS||STATE TOURNAMENT||SOUTHWEST CONFERENCE/
MADISON-ST. CLAIR CONF.
|1924-25 – 1936-37||3rd Place
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|2 appearances||2nd Place
2 / 1
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|Willard O. Larson, a recent graduate of Augustana College, was hired
to replace departing coach William Hawkins. Coach Larson spent thirteen successful years in Collinsville before leaving in 1937. His teams compiled a record of 251 wins and 74 losses. He won
eight conference championships and was able to take two teams to the State Tournament.
Coach Larson's first year 1924-25 finished the season with a record of sixteen wins and four losses finishing second place in the conference. After defeating Belleville three times during the regular season, they lost to them in the finals of the District Tournament.
The first victory over Belleville that season didn't count in the standings as it had to be replayed. The game was played at Collinsville and the official assigned to the game did not show up, so Leo Jokerst, one time Collinsville player, was called from the stands to referee the game. Alton protested the game because a registered official wasn't used. Collinsville agreed to play the game over and won.
The newly remodeled gymnasium was first used during the 1926 season. This was one of the finest facilities in the area (After a new gym was built in 1941, the gym floor became a cafeteria with a second floor added on the space for a new library).
Collinsville won the District Tournament to advance to the Sectionals at Salem. They lost out to Flora and Marion to close out the season.
Coach Larson was faced with a very inexperienced team in 1926-27, but was able to mold it into a top contender. The team won twenty-two of twenty-four games, won the conference with a fourteen win and no loss record, won the County Tournament and won the Inter-Conference play-off game against Lebanon. In the District they fell short, losing to this same Lebanon team 32-45.
Collinsville won the conference the next two years in a row, becoming the first team to win it three times straight and was given permanent possession of the Conference trophy.
The 1930-31 team again placed first in the Conference and also won the District and Sectional Tournament and became the second Collinsville team to play in the State Tournament. In Champaign the Kahoks met a strong Decatur team and lost 24-23. Decatur won the State Championship. The record that year was twenty-one wins and five losses.
Coach Larson's teams continued to dominate the Southwestern Conference as they either won or tied for the lead the next three years.
The 1931-32 team won twenty games and lost eight and won the District Tournament. The team lost in the finals of the Sectional Tournament to a good Lawrenceville team, 26-20.
Coach Larson's 1933-34 team failed to win the District championship as they lost in the final game to Granite City in a triple overtime, 29-28. At that time, both the winner and runner-up advanced to a Sectional Tournament. Collinsville played in its own Sectional, but lost the first game to Zeigler 35- 17.
After defeating Alton twice during the 1934-1935 season, the Kahoks could not make it three times in a row and lost the first game of the District to Alton 24-20. During the season, the Kahoks won their own invitational tournament by defeating Jerseyville, Witt, East St Louis and Granite City. Final record for the season was twenty wins and five losses.
Again in 1935-36 the Kahoks lost in the District Championship game and was allowed to advance to the Sectional Tournament. There they were defeated for the third time of the season by a good East St. Louis team to close out the season.
What turned out to be Coach Larson's final season proved to be his best. The 1936-1937 Kahoks were an experienced team and played the game like veterans. They lost only one game in the conference and won another championship, Coach Larson's eighth in thirteen years.
The team won the Regional Tournament played at Wood River, went on to win the Sectionat Tournament at Belleville, and advanced to the State Tournament in Champaign.
At Champaign they defeated Carbondale and Chicago Wells to advance to the semi-finals. There they met Joliet and fell short, losing 28-26. Joliet went on to win the championship. Collinsville played Pekin in the consolation game and defeated them 31-18 to win the third place trophy.
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