BELLEVILLE — The Althoff Crusaders fell just short in their South Seven Conference game against the Mount Vernon Rams on Thursday.
With 0.9 seconds left in the game, Althoff trailed 43-41 with freshman Alanna Bramwell at the free-throw line with a chance to tie it.
She missed both free throws, allowing Mount Vernon to escape with the win.
"Pressure is when you don't prepare," Althoff coach Todd Hill said. "We've shot free throws in practice with time on the clock at the end of games.
"It just didn't fall for (Bramwell), but that didn't cost us the game. It's things that happen over the course of the game that decides the outcome, not one play."
The victory gave Mount Vernon at least a share of the South Seven Conference title.
"We had a goal to win the conference, and tonight we got a piece of it at least," Mount Vernon coach Jeff Lonnon said. "We're guaranteed one, and that's a big deal to us. In the end we just wanted it a little bit more."
Mount Vernon led Althoff by eight with 5 minutes left in the fourth quarter.
In less than two minutes, Althoff junior Rachel Kaltwasser made two free throws and knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers to tie it at 39.
"Rachel scores," Hill said. "That's one of the things she does well for us among many other things. She's taking her leadership role well. She's one of our captains. She did what she needed to do tonight."
Kaltwasser tied the game again 41-41 with 1:21 left, but Mount Vernon senior Kelby Kujawa hit the game-winning basket with 13 seconds remaining.
"Althoff did a great job pressuring our guards and forced us into a lot of mistakes," Lonnon said. "We just somehow gutted it up."
Hill called a timeout with 10 seconds remaining. Kaltwasser was freed up on the inbounds play, but missed a 3. Bramwell was fouled on an attempted put-back, but missed the free throws.
"It was a game back and forth," Hill said. "Kids fought hard. We just fell short."
Kaltwasser kept Althoff in the game, scoring 12 of her 26 points in the fourth quarter.
Kaltwasser shot 4-of-9 from 3-point range and converted eight of nine free throws. Bramwell finished with nine points.
The Mount Vernon starting five spread its points around. Kujawa led the Rams with 12 points. Senior Aaliyah Palmer and sophomore Hannah Owens finished with 10 points apiece. Juniors Claire Ryan and Courtney Scarbrough finished with seven and four points, respectively.