BELLEVILLE — The Althoff Crusdaers came out energized on their senior night, cruising to a nine-point lead Thursday at the end of the third quarter.
But the Centralia Annies spoiled the occasion by outscoring Althoff 19-7 in the fourth quarter to defeat the Crusaders 47-44.
"I was proud of them, the way they didn't show frustration when the ball wasn't going in the basket like we had in the past," Centralia coach Roger Stieg said. "In the fourth quarter, they could've hung their heads a little bit, but they didn't."
While the Althoff seniors were honored before the game, freshman Anna Hanger stole the show in the first half.
She was a perfect 5-for-5 from the field, including 4-for-4 from 3-point range. Her 14 first-half points gave Althoff a six-point halftime lead.
"They were worried about taking away Rachel (Kaltwasser)," Althoff coach Todd Hill said. "When you're open and they're trying to take away somebody else, you've got to hit shots, and she did."
The Crusaders extended their lead to as much as 11 in the third quarter, but the hot shooting wasn't there in the fourth quarter as it was in the first three.
Althoff was 16-for-34 from the field before the fourth quarter, but 1 for 9 after.
"We made some shots early," Hill said. "The game is 32 minutes. You've got to play it out. We talk about that all the time, finishing games."
Centrailia trailed by nine with a little over four minutes remaining in the game. Senior Danielle Meadows scored five of her 15 points points in less than a minute to pull the Annies within four points.
"We just kept grinding it out," Stieg said. "It seemed like we were on 28 points for the longest time. When we got it to four, I thought we had a chance."
Centrailia and Althoff swapped the lead with less than a minute to play, but Centrailia senior Abbey Holtkamp gave the Annies the lead with 10 seconds left. Senior Jordyn Looman then stole an Althoff inbounds pass and was fouled, making both the free throws.
Kaltwasser missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer that secured the win for Centrailia. The loss was Althoff's eighth in a row.
"We've really came a long way," Hill said. "You want to see us getting on the other side of games like this rather than coming up on the short end. That's the piece you want to see evolve."
Hanger's 14 points led the Crusaders. Seniors Kymber Hill and Mary Cardenas scored 13 and 12, respectively.
Meadows led Centrailia with her 15 points. Holtkamp had 10 points, while junior Raigen Schwartz finished with eight. Centrailia evened its overall record at 13-13, and improved its South Seven Conference record to 7-3.