BELLEVILLE — Belleville West coach Joe Muniz called on the old baseball saying of, "Pick me up,'' to explain how the Maroons pulled together for a win over city rival Althoff.
Nick Van Osdale scored 15 of his game-high 21 points in the fourth quarter and the Maroons' reserves stepped up in light of a string of recent injuries to help beat the Crusaders 60-51 Saturday night.
The Maroons were playing without Markkies Goodwin (sprained ankle), D.J. Owens (sprained ankle) and Sherand Boyd (swollen knee).
"All the coaches, we're all baseball guys and one of the things we stressed today was the old saying of, 'Pick me up,''' Muniz said. "In baseball, you hear that all the time. Bases loaded and nobody out, and a guy hits a pop up on the infield, he comes back to the dugout, 'Pick me up, pick me up.' Well, tonight was one of those games everybody had to pick each other up, and we did.''
The Maroons trailed 47-44 with 3:34 left to play before going on a 16-4 rally to close out the game. The Maroons got a key 3-pointer from Cade Dibadj to tie the game at 47-47 with 2:07 left. Van Osdale converted a three-point play to move the Maroons ahead 50-47 with 1:45 to go.
After a basket in the lane by Althoff's Kevin Renner, the Maroons got a layup by Van Osdale and then two free throws by Isaiah Lewis after he was fouled on a breakaway layup off a steal.
Keenen Young drove for a basket that got the Crusaders within 54-51, but that's as close as they would get as Van Osdale sank four free throws in the final 37 seconds.
The Maroons (15-8) snapped a three-game losing streak.
"It's a huge win for our kids and our program,'' Muniz said. "It just shows you the depth of our program in tonight's game. We're playing everybody when you have three of your top eight sidelined. These kids come to practice and work hard everyday. They don't get the attention maybe the top 8 get, but they're in there working. Seth Garrett my jayvee coach, and Roger Mueller and Jessie Swift have done a great job constantly working with these kids.''
The Maroons also got 14 points from Donnie Foster and 12 points from Lewis.
Van Osdale went 9-for-10 at the free-throw line in the fourth quarter. He had four free throws in the final 37 seconds to help clinch the win.
"What hasn't Nick done?'' Muniz said. "Althoff threw a combination defense against us. It was like, 'We're going to get the ball out of his hands.' Bottom line: Nick made some plays defensively, too. He had a couple of steals."
The Crusaders dropped to 12-11. They've lost four of their last five games.
"We had a couple of possessions go their way, they hit some shots and Nick Van Osdale is the player that he is,'' Althoff coach Greg Leib said. "Free throws really hurt you, and he's good at getting to the free-throw line. The effort was there, we had some opportunities we let get away from us. That comes with the game. We've had these situations where it's gone our way, and it hasn't gone Joe's.''
The Crusaders were led by Young with 18 points, Renner with 12 points and Erik Furmanek with 10 points.
Ryan Marcum drew the main defensive assigment on Van Osdale, shadowing him all over the court in an attempt to deny him the ball.
"Ryan Marcum had a really good ballgame,'' Leib said. "Van Osdale, it takes two or threee people most times to hold him. I told our kids in the locker room that we did a really good job of executing tonight. There was just a two- or three-minute stretch where it didn't go very well for us.''
The Crusaders led 4-0 after baskets by Marcum and Renner, but the Maroons pulled in front 5-4 on a 3-pointer by Lewis.
The score was tied at 9-8 and 11-11 before the Marons went up 14-13 on a 3 by Dibadj coming off the bench.
The Crusaders regained a 15-14 lead when Grant Strieker hit a double-pump shot from just inside the free-throw line at the buzzer ending the first quarter.
Young and Kyle Sweeney, making his first start for the Maroons, traded baskets early in the second quarter before the Crusaders took a 21-18 advantage on an inside basket by Furmanek.
The Maroons closed the first half with an 8-2 run, going ahead 26-23 on two free throws by Van Osdale with 21 seconds remaining.
Young scored the first two buckets of the third quarter to pull the Crusaders ahead 27-26.
The two teams traded the lead the rest of the third quarter until Van Osdale drained a 3 with four seconds to give the Maroons a 36-35 edge heading into the final period.
Contact reporter Steve Korte at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2522.