CARBONDALE — The Althoff Crusaders trailed for all but about five seconds in the third quarter as they dropped their South Seven Conference opener Saturday to Carbondale 68-56.
Both teams entered the contest undefeated, and Althoff made plenty of runs, even grabbing a 36-35 edge in the third quarter, but the Terriers were simply too much.
Devontavius Payne scored a game-high 24 points for the Terriers. Freshman standout Jordan Goodwin racked up 23 points for the Crusaders.
"There are no easy nights in the South Seven, and you have to defend your home court in order to have a chance to win the conference," said Carbondale coach Jim Miller. "This is a great way to start with the effort we gave tonight against a real good team.
"If that's any indication of how our kids will respond with two weeks off then we've got some good games ahead of us."
Down 29-14 with 2 minutes and 56 seconds left in the second quarter, Goodwin started an 8-0 run for the Crusaders with a rebound and basket. The freshman would score six of the points during the run and Althoff went into halftime down 31-22.
Brendon Gooch, a 6-foot, 5-inch forward, picked up his third foul in the second quarter and had to sit for a while. But his teammates picked up slack and kept the Crusaders in the game.
"We played them close, but we didn't play well enough to steal one," said Althoff coach Greg Leib, whose team fell to 5-1 and 0-1 in conference play. "These (Carbondale) guys have been playing together for four years. Their seniors are a great group of players. They've gone through some growing pains over the years, and now they've got the fruits and just rewards of it.
Kevin Renner contributed 15 points for Althoff, and he made some huge shots to keep the contest close. The senior picked up a steal and converted on the other end to give the Crusaders their only lead of the game, 36-35, with 2:35 left in the third quarter.
"Kevin is a just a steadying factor for us,"Leib said. "We made a run because he got some easy buckets with his defense."
The Terriers (4-0, 1-0) always had an answer and ripped off nine straight points over the next two minutes. Shamarc Bursey buried a 3-pointer, and Payne threw an alley-oop pass to Allen Billinger for a layup.
Payne capped off the run with a steal and one-handed jam. Billinger finished with 15 points for Carbondale, and Bursey added 12. Jordan Kelly, the Terriers only true post player, added nine points.
"I thought our kids showed a lot of poise and confidence in each other," Miller said. "Our kids knew they were going to make runs on us, and it's always about how you handle those runs. Our kids did a great job of that. I was really pleased with our decision-making on offense."