BELLEVILLE — A hard-fought win was the best remedy after a heart-breaking loss for the Althoff Crusaders.
Kevin Renner scored 21 points, including four late free throws, as the Crusaders beat the Gibault Hawks 62-57 Saturday.
"I don't know if there is enough comfort cheeseburgers out there to satisfy that,'' Althoff coach Greg Leib joked of how he would have felt if the Crusaders had lost to the Hawks after dropping a 57-56 decision to Centralia on Friday night.
"Great ballgame. Althoff and Gibault, (Hawks coach) Dennis (Rueter) and I talked about getting this rivalry going again, and that's why. It was a great ballgame for the fans. We were fortunate to come out on top. It could have gone either way.''
Renner scored 15 of his points in the second half. He was 9-for-9 at the free-throw line in the second half.
"He wants the ball in his hands, he and Keenan (Young),'' Leib said of Renner. "And, (Brandon) Gooch made a couple of big free throws. It always plays a part. If you miss those, it changes the whole complexity of the game.''
Young added 15 points and Gooch had 14 points.
Gooch sank two free throws with 10 seconds left to seal the win.
The Crusaders improved to 9-6.
"That first half we didn't look very good, but that second half I liked how we responded,'' said Leib, whose squad trailed 30-22 at halftime. "Those are the kind of things you need to do to be successful the first of March.''
The Hawks dropped to 15-3. They were led by Wes Degener with 18 points, Matt Schreder with 10 points and Nick Row and Brenden McFarland each with nine points.
The Hawks connected on their first three shots, including 3-pointers by Row and Schreder, in grabbing an 8-4 lead.
The Crusaders tied the score at 8-8 on a rebound basket by Gooch and briefly took am 11-10 lead on a 3-pointer by Young.
Sam Toal sank two free throws with 18 seconds left in the first quarter to give the Hawks a 14-13 edge.
The Hawks got 3-pointers from Row and Degener in extending their lead to 30-20.
However, the Crusaders got a layup from Renner with one second left in the first half to trim their deficit to 30-22 at halftime.
The Crusaders reeled off a 14-4 run at the start of the third quarter to pull ahead 36-34. A fallaway jumper on the baseline by Renner capped the surge.
The Cruaders led 42-41 after a basket by Eric Mertens with nine seconds left in the third quarter, but the Hawks got a free throw from Degener with 3.4 seconds left in the period to tie the score at 42-42.
The lead changed hands three times early in the fourth quarter.
The Crusaders led 54-40 after a 3-pointer from Erik Furmanek and a jumper in the lane by Renner.
The Hawks closed the gap to 56-55 on a runner in the lane by McFarland with 1:25 to go and then tied the game on a free throw by Degener with 1:04 left.
Renner sank a pair of free throws with 34 seconds remaining and another pair of free throws with 19 seconds remaining to put the Crusaders up 60-56.
Contact reporter Steve Korte at email@example.com or 239-2522.