CAHOKIA — After hitting a career-high nine 3-pointers on Friday, most of which never touched the rim, Cahokia High School senior Keenan Minor did not seem overly excited.
"When we were in the huddle, once I hit about three or four everybody pretty much made up their minds to feed me the ball so I could hit a couple more," said Minor, who drained six of his nine 3-pointers in the fourth quarter and scored 30 points in Cahokia's 81-71 victory over Althoff that clinched a South Seven Conference title.
"Three-pointers are good, but the best thing to do is to stay humble. Stay with your rhythm."
Ranked fifth in the Class 3A state poll, Cahokia improved to 25-3 overall and 8-1 in conference play.
Minor, a senior guard averaging just over 21 points per game, celebrated senior night in style and went out with a flourish. In the fourth quarter he nailed four straight 3s, missed one, then hit two more to push his game total to nine.
He left the game to a loud ovation from fans on both sides of the gym.
"He's due to get cold," joked Althoff coach Greg Leib, whose team dropped to 4-5 in league play and 12-13 overall. "We're just waiting; hopefully we can get through to him one more time, we'll see.
"That's why he won the 3-point shooting contest for the state last year. The son of a gun can shoot. We've got to track him like Osama bin Laden if he's out there. We've got to know where he is all the time and put somebody on him."
Unfortunately for Althoff, Minor had far too many open looks. He sank one 3-pointer from at least 25 feet away during the first quarter.
Asked whether Minor is the best shooter he's ever seen, Cahokia coach Darian Nash tapped into his memory bank.
"So far," Nash said. "I've seen a couple of them back at Lincoln -- Freddie Towns, Spanky Wilson, but he's right up there with them."
Minor was 9-for-15 on 3-pointers Friday and on the season is hitting an incredible 60 percent of his shots from beyond the arc (80-for-134).
"He lit it up tonight. He was focused," said Nash, who has been challenging his shooters by using seven or eight defenders against his starting five in practice. "I think he came out with a purpose and he wanted to prove to people he could do it. I'm proud of him, he works hard."
With the game starting at a fast pace, Althoff found an early offensive rhythm and led 21-20 after one quarter. The Crusaders led despite 10 first-quarter points from Minor.
Althoff had a 25-20 lead when the Crusaders lost senior Erik Furmanek to an ankle injury with 5:52 remaining in the second quarter. Furmanek had six points and at least six rebounds at that point, but did not return.
The Comanches took off from there, closing out the first half with a 17-4 run that helped them build a 37-29 lead.
"If you saw the movie Avengers, they don't win that fight without the Hulk," Leib said. "That's sort of what Erik does for us, he's really physical in there and we ran some stuff for him, too."
Althoff reeled off a 10-0 run to begin the second half, taking a 39-37 lead. Nash got a timeout and the Crusaders' momentum was history as the Comanches used a 10-2 run to re-establish control.
Althoff hung close thanks to freshman Brendon Gooch, who hit a running 3 to end the third quarter that cut Cahokia's lead to 51-48.
Gooch dropped 23 points on the Comanches and fellow freshman Keenen Young added 13, with Ryan Marcum and Kevin Renner contributing eight points apiece.
Minor shot the Crusaders right out of the gym in the final quarter by hitting six more 3s. Cahokia got 13 points in three quarters from junior Darius Austin, who began the night on the bench when Nash started five seniors on senior night.
Vincent Jackson added 12 for the Comanches.
"We just had some moments there where we let it get away and you can't let a good team take advantage of those situations," Leib said. "The margin of error is too slim."