BELLEVILLE — Chants of "overrated" from Althoff students resonated Friday night as they watched their Crusaders build a 24-8 lead against Belleville West in the second quarter.
But the Maroons, who opened the game 2-for-25 from the field, righted the ship and turned the tables on Althoff in a 62-52 victory in the Chick-fil-A (*168*) Classic at Belleville East.
"Early on, they got to us pretty good," said West senior Nick Van Osdale, who scored a game-high 25 points and was 14-for-16 from the free-throw line. "We were missing shots; we were missing easy shots. (But) I knew if we kept plugging away and plugging away, they would eventually start falling, and they did."
Enough of them, at least.
The Maroons shot just 29 percent from the field (17-for-58), including 22 percent on 3-pointers (4-for-18). But a 24-for-30 showing from the free-throw line helped.
"What can I say? We gutted one out," Maroons coach Joe Muniz said. "We just didn't hit shots tonight."
Althoff (9-8) will play McCluer (1-10) in the fifth-place game at 5 p.m. Saturday. The Maroons (12-4) will play Oakville (8-5) for third place at 6:30 and Madison Prep (16-0) will face Belleville East (16-2) for the championship at 8.
After trailing by 16 points, the Maroons went on a 12-0 run to climb within 24-20 at halftime. Althoff helped keep West in contention by committing 15 of its 20 turnovers in the first half.
West grabbed its first lead at 36-34 on a 3-pointer by Van Osdale with 2:15 left in the third quarter, then went ahead for good at 39-38 on senior Isaiah Lewis' 3 with 7:27 to play in the game.
Lewis' shot began a 13-0 run that put the Maroons ahead 49-38. Van Osdale added eight points in the flurry, and Althoff was no closer than seven points in the last 3 1/2 minutes.
"We jumped out pretty well and got up on them and were able to disrupt them," Althoff coach Greg Leib said. "The second half, the shots that we hit didn't fall, and they were able to free up Van Osdale with some high pick-and-roll action.
"He's just so good; he just needs an angle. That's all it usually takes for him."
Leib said West's first run was particularly damaging.
"We had an opportunity to throw the dirt on the grave or leave it open so the zombies could get you later," he said. "That's what happened to us. We were the walking dead out there in the second half. We didn't put them down."
Van Osdale, who injured his left knee in West's 66-65 overtime loss to Belleville East on Tuesday, was questionable for the game. Like his teammates, he started slowly against Althoff, but the knee began to respond in the second half when he had 19 points and was 12-for-12 from the line.
"Nick, until 4 o'clock, wasn't even going to play," Maroons coach Joe Muniz said. "It was a weird two days of practice trying to prepare in case he does play or doesn't play.
"Let's be honest: Nick turned it on. He did nothing for 2 1/2 days. He hasn't shot a basketball, hasn't done anything. So he was probably a little lethargic, a little rusty. Just the timing of everything was a little off. But the second half, as he got into the flow of the game, it loosened up."
Van Osdale said he always was optimistic he would play, and he said the knee felt "great" for most of Friday.
"Early in the game, it was pretty stiff," he said. "As the game kept going on, it kept getting looser and looser and I kept getting my legs back. By the end of the game, I felt as close to normal as I could."
Muniz also praised the contributions of reserve players Sherand Boyd, LaDarcus Ford, Kyle Sweeney, Cade Dibadj and Nick Givens. They combined for 16 points, with Dibadj nailing a second-quarter 3-pointer from the right corner that ignited the 12-0 run.
West needed its role players, given that senior D.J. Owens was sick and missed most of the game and seniors Markkies Goodwin (nine points) and Donnie Foster (two points) were contained by Althoff's big front line of Erik Furmanek and Eric Mertens.
"They gave us huge minutes," Muniz said. "They really brought some intensity that our starters didn't have. I'm really happy about that. It's going to make us deeper and stronger."
Junior Kevin Renner and freshman Keenen Young led the Crusaders with 14 points apiece. Lewis added 10 for West, all in the second half.
Contact reporter David Wilhelm at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2665.