BELLEVILLE — Cahokia led by 15 points at the start of the fourth quarter Friday and just when the Comanches thought the game was over, it wasn't.
Althoff came flying back to force overtime, then led by five points in the extra period -- only to watch Cahokia top that comeback with an even bigger one of its own as the Comanches won a 71-70 South Seven Conference thriller.
Down 70-65 with a minute and 6 seconds remaining in overtime, Cahokia got six points from Missouri-Kansas City recruit Darius Austin in the final 39.3 seconds to escape with a victory.
"In that fourth quarter we didn't stay composed," said Austin, who finished with 22 points and twice finished off shots underneath following steals by teammates Montez Crumble and Gary Hickman. "We thought the game was over, but they had the comeback.
"It's very emotional, man. Two South Seven teams just five miles apart and it's going to be an intense game every time we play them. We love playing Althoff, we've got mad respect against them."
Cahokia (20-7) improved to 6-2 in the South Seven. The Comanches got 17 points from sophomore Tarkus Ferguson, 13 from Drake recruit C.J. Rivers and 10 from Crumble.
Trailing 55-40 early in the fourth quarter, Althoff (15-7, 3-5) was on the brink of defeat.
But sophomore Keenen Young scored 10 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter and freshman Jordan Goodwin added nine, including a three-point play with 55.6 seconds remaining, to fuel a frenetic 21-6 run.
Young's jumper in the lane with 23.7 seconds remaining sent the game to OT. It may not have gotten there if either team had hit a few more free throws.
Cahokia was 13-for-23 at the foul line and Althoff was 16-for-27.
Cahokia led 60-53 with 1:12 remaining in regulation, but shots by Goodwin and Kevin Renner and a Comanche turnover put Young in position to hit the tying shot.
Two free throws by Renner gave Althoff a 70-65 lead with 1:06 remaining in overtime, but the Crusaders had trouble dealing with Cahokia's intense defensive pressure.
Althoff turned it over twice in the final 33 seconds -- and each time that turnover led to a bucket by Austin.
"How fitting for stinking Valentine's Day and (we) get our hearts broke out here," Althoff coach Greg Leib said. "Doggone made-up holiday and it goes and crushes my guys. Great effort by both teams, they got a few plays at the end and Darius Austin ... he just makes plays.
"His physicality is just unsurpassed. I'm a big UMKC fan and I can't wait to see him get there."
Cahokia seemingly had things in hand most of the way, leading 37-23 at halftime and 53-38 after three quarters.
But even though they bent at times, Cahokia made the crucial defensive plays at the end that led to a tough road win.
"Any time you come in this gym or any school in the South Seven, it's a war," Cahokia coach Darian Nash said. "It's not going to be easy."
Nash credited his team's schedule and ability to handle pressure for the win, which came despite committing 14 turnovers in the second half and OT.
"We play one of the toughest schedules in the state of Illinois and we're on the road a lot, so we've been in this situation before," Nash said. "People don't understand why we've lost seven games, but we've got one of the top five schedules in the state of Illinois. We came in down five with 55 seconds left and we pulled a victory out.
"That's why we play that tough schedule."
Goodwin (21 points), Young (19) and Renner (18) helped bring Althoff back but Leib lamented the inability to execute once the Crusaders had the lead in OT.
"I sound like I'm a Republican presidential candidate dealing with moral victories," he said. "You've just got to come out there and get thing done. I didn't get it done and we just didn't get things done when we needed to.
"Great effort by the boys. Anybody that wants to bad mouth my guys go right ahead. It's a better group that keeps battling and keeps fighting, down 15 and fought back, took the lead in overtime. We just couldn't finish it up."
Cahokia turned the first quarter into a dunkfest, throwing down slams on four of its first six shots with Austin and DeVonte Williams leading the way.
Althoff hung close through one quarter, trailing 18-14, but the Comanches got hot from 3-point range and pushed their lead to 28-16 early in the second quarter.