CAHOKIA — Using relentless defensive pressure and overwhelming quickness, the Cahokia Comanches turned a four-point halftime lead into a blowout in the third quarter.
Cahokia hit eight of 14 shots and forced eight turnovers during a scalding third quarter that helped the Comanches defeat Althoff 67-50 Friday in a South Seven Conference game.
"I saw it as a big statement game, people were talking about them being 5-1," said Cahokia senior guard C.J. Rivers, a Drake recruit who had a team-high 21 points and nailed seven of his 10 shots with four 3-pointers. "Nothing against them, we wanted to come out and show we were still going to be a contender in the conference and for a state championship."
There was a little doubt about that as Cahokia (5-3) improved to 2-0 in the conference by pushing a four-point halftime lead to 20 early in the fourth quarter.
Leading 31-27 at halftime, the Comanches turned up the heat defensively and Althoff (5-2, 0-2) could not handle the pressure. The Crusaders committed eight of their 18 turnovers in the third quarter, endured a sizzling 14-2 run by Cahokia to start the second half, and had no answer at the defensive end, either.
Cahokia also got 17 points from Missouri-Kansas City recruit Darius Austin and 15 from sophomore guard Tarkus Ferguson.
"We've been working on our defense," said Cahokia coach Darian Nash, whose team finished second in the state in Class 3A a year ago. "We're pretty good. Not to be boasting or anything, but we're our worst enemy. If we play hard and you have to stop us, it's hard to beat us."
Nash liked getting across-the-board contributions from several players.
"Rivers steps up every night," he said. "If it's not a big point night he does the little things. Darius does the same thing, he's coming into his own."
Althoff coach Greg Leib praised the Comanches' intensity.
"It's tough to deal with if their shots are falling," Leib said. "You needed a miss and it just didn't happen. They're a good ballclub, that's why they're a top-five team in the state.
"It just lets you know what we need to do. A lot of it is because Cahokia's very good -- and a lot of it is we can do a better job ourselves. I don't fault the kids' effort, the kids' effort was good."
Sophomore guard Keenen Young topped Althoff with 17 points. Althoff freshman Jordan Goodwin, whose father Tim Goodwin was an all-state player at Cahokia, added 15.
Althoff got seven points from Goodwin in the opening quarter to hang close early.
Cahokia used a 7-0 blitz to open the second quarter that included a 3-pointer by Rivers and a pair of dunks by Gary Hickman and Austin.
Austin scored eight of his 12 first-half points in the second quarter.
Cahokia's lead reached seven points in the second quarter, but eight points from Young kept the Crusaders close. The Comanches got a 3-pointer from the corner by Montez Crumble just ahead of the halftime buzzer to take a 31-27 lead.
"We've been working on defense and being unselfish," Nash said. "They're buying into the defensive aspect now. I still think we gave them a few open looks we shouldn't have given them, but overall I think the pressure was there."