CENTRALIA — The Althoff Crusaders came tantalizingly close to picking up a South Seven Conference road win.
The Crusaders had the ball trailing by a point with 9.4 seconds left, but they missed two attempts at a go-ahead bucket and lost to the Centralia Orphans 57-56 on Friday night.
"It's a good group of kids who don't quit and kept believing," Althoff coach Greg Leib said. "It's was an incredible effort by our guys tonight, and that's why we had an opportunity to get one on the road in the Seven."
The Crusaders trailed 57-53 after Centralia's Jerod Simmons-Young sank two free throws with 32 seconds left.
Althoff's Keenen Young fired in a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 22 seconds to go, and the Orphans turned the ball over when Chase Alcorn overthrew a wide-open teammate going for a layup on the back end of Althoff's press with 17 seconds left.
After Leib used his final timeout with nine seconds to go, guard Kevin Renner was fouled three times as the Orphans had three fouls to give before reaching the bonus.
On the third foul, Renner almost got off a shot that would have resulted in two free throws with 4.2 seconds left.
The Crusaders inbounded the ball again. Freshman Brendon Gooch got the ball about 10 feet from the basket and put up a shot as he tried to slice through traffic to the rim.
The shot was off the mark, but Erik Furmanek chased down the rebound near the baseline. Furmanek's off-balance shot missed at the buzzer.
"We got a good look at the basket," Leib said. "We run that a lot, and that's Gooch's honey-well right there. You could second-guess and say, 'We should have run this, we should have run that.'
"You get a good look at the basket, and Furmanek makes an incredible play to get the rebound back. It's just tough."
Renner led the Crusaders (8-6, 3-2 South Seven) with 21 points, while Young added 18 points, including nine in the fourth quarter.
"He just turned 15 a couple of weeks ago," Leib said of Young, a freshman. "He really played well tonight and does an excellent job with the ball in his hands. He and Kevin Renner, I thought, really controlled the tempo, and that allowed us to run some offense."
Centralia coach Lee Bennett said his team could have done a better job with the lead at the end of the game.
"We had a favorable situation at the end, so we were trying to make it work to our advantage," Bennett said. "And, we weren't necessarily witty enough to have it work to our advantage."
The Orphans (12-4, 3-2) were led by Simmons-Young with 24 points.
Centralia also got 14 points from De'Ontre Cunningham and 13 points from Jake Wood.
The Orphans scored on a layup by Cunningham for a quick 2-0 lead, but the Crusaders scored eight straight points to go up 8-2.
The Orphans tied the score at 10 on a rebound basket by Simmons-Young.
Then the Crusaders went on a 14-2 run to build a 24-12 lead. Renner scored the final four points of the first quarter on two free throws and a short jumper to put the Crusaders back ahead 14-10. Luke Frazier and Young hit 3s and Renner had a steal and a layup to highlight the rally.
"Young just gets better every time I see him," Bennett said. "The first time I saw him, he wasn't much talked about. A lot of people were talking about Gooch. We saw him and we were like, 'This kid is good."'
The Orphans used a 17-0 run -- the final nine points of the first half and the first eight points of the second half -- to pull in front 33-28.
"We knew it was coming," Leib said. "I didn't think they'd shoot that poorly all game from what we've seen of them. They hit some shots and got enough of a cushion to help them be successful at the end."
Simmons-Young's 3-pointer with 4.7 seconds left in the second quarter cut the Orphans' deficit to 28-25.
Simmons-Young hit another 3 and Wood added a 3 as the Orphans took the lead at the start of the third quarter.
The Crusaders tied the score at 36-36 on a basket by Gooch, but a basket by Wood gave the Orphans a 38-36 edge going into the fourth quarter.
Contact reporter Steve Korte at email@example.com or 239-2522.