BELLEVILLE — There were no surprises Tuesday when the Triad Knights faced Althoff for the second time this season.
The Crusaders capitalized on their strength and quickness at every position and ripped the Knights 66-45 in a nonconference game.
"That's a heck of a team, and playing here made them even better," Triad coach Sam Drake said. "They did a good job of controlling the game physically. We thought if we were to have any chance, we would need to try to match them physically. We couldn't do it.
"They're so athletic. Our guys have to do everything right to be in that game. They're bigger, stronger, faster and can jump higher. That makes it tough."
Freshman Jordan Goodwin of Althoff (16-6) led all scorers with 20 points and was 9-for-12 from the field. Sophomore Brendon Gooch had 16 points and three 3-pointers and senior Kevin Renner had 12 points.
The Knights (6-16), who lost to Althoff 54-45 in the Collinsville-Schnucks Holiday Classic on Dec. 26, were led by freshman Noah Moss' 18 points. Senior Jason Barbour had 12.
It was a bounceback performance for Althoff, which fell to South Seven Conference rival Carbondale 67-63 on Friday in Belleville. The Crusaders have two big games on the horizon: Friday vs. visiting Cahokia and Saturday at Belleville West.
"It's a long week, but it's that time of year when you want to play, get some kinks (ironed) out and work a few things," Althoff coach Greg Leib said. "We were able to work against a zone tonight. We'll see a different kind of zone Friday, and who knows what Joe (Muniz, West's coach) is going to throw out there. He's pretty crafty."
Althoff found the openings in Triad's zone and shot 60 percent (27-for-45) while being charged with just seven turnovers, most of them coming in the fourth quarter after Leib pulled his starters. Triad shot 33 percent (14-for-43) and committed 14 turnovers.
Things started off well for the Knights, who took an 8-4 lead on back-to-back 3s by senior Andrew Ducharme and Moss. But Althoff quickly surged ahead 10-8 and grabbed the lead for good at 12-10 when Renner hit a 14-footer from the right side of the lane.
The Crusaders led 16-11 after the first quarter and 35-22 at halftime. Goodwin hit all four of his shots from the floor in the second quarter and Gooch nailed a pair of 3-pointers.
"We tried to be aggressive against their zone. Sam plays a great zone," Leib said. "If you just pass it around the perimeter, it plays right into what they want to do. I thought we were able to attack a few gaps after some reversal action, and that all goes to the kids. They're the ones that made the plays and set the table for each other."
Althoff's advantage grew to 51-31 after three quarters and 63-37 three minutes into the fourth quarter. Both teams soon cleared their benches.
Drake said the second quarter was the Knights' downfall.
"We made some shots early," Drake said. "They sped us up in the second quarter. For us to be able to deal with that, we've got to be able to slow ourselves back down, and we couldn't slow back down. They built that halftime lead by just getting us going so fast."
The Knights dropped 11 of their first 12 games this season. But since 2014 arrived, they have gone 5-5 and own victories over Jerseyville, Highland and Gibault.
"The boys are playing really hard," Drake said. "We've had a rough season record-wise, but these guys show up for work every single day. I've never had a team as good as these guys are at just doing their jobs and coming as hard as they can every day, ready to play. That says a lot about what kind of kids they are."
Contact reporter David Wilhelm at email@example.com or 239-2665.