Althoff's narrow win over Belleville East nails down city championship

News-DemocratFebruary 19, 2014 

— Belleville East's emotional high didn't last long.

The Lancers, coming off an exhilarating overtime victory at Alton on Tuesday, couldn't duplicate that performance Wednesday in a 53-51 loss to visiting Althoff.

Freshman Jordan Goodwin scored 22 points and senior Kevin Renner added 12 as the Crusaders (18-7) earned the city championship. They defeated Belleville West 54-52 on Saturday.

"It's two rivalry games," Goodwin said. "We came in off a hard loss against Cahokia (on Friday). We just wanted to really get it done out there. Coach (Greg Leib) got our minds set before the game and we just executed."

Althoff, employing triangle-and-two and box-and-one defenses against the Lancers (16-8), held East senior point guard Darreon Reddick to seven points --all of them in the fourth quarter. Reddick was coming off a 19-point outburst in the 80-76 victory over Alton, nine of which came in the OT.

"We junked it up out there," Leib said, referring to the gimmick defenses. "We threw Sanford and Son at them and it worked out for us. We were fortunate enough to come out of here with a victory.

"Tonight we had good tempo. I thought our shot selection was as good as it's been. I think that's what you've got to do against good teams like East, especially at their place."

Crusaders fans chanted "junior college" at Reddick as he shot, and made, two free throws in a tight fourth quarter. The good-natured ribbing unnerved Leib, who was standing a few feet away.

"I didn't want to wake him up," Leib said. "Our student section was over there challenging him. I know Reddick and he's a competitor. I was content to let him sleep this one off. He woke up and got them back (in it). We were fortunate enough to hit some shots, make some free throws and finish this thing out."

Althoff was 18-for-42 from the field (43 percent), but just 3-for-15 from beyond the 3-point line. All of the Crusaders' points came from their starters.

The Lancers were 16-for-36 (44 percent) overall and 5-for-17 on 3s. They were led by seniors Cameron Hunter and Domonic Blaylock, who each scored 12 points. Senior Austin Cox had 11. Hunter fouled out with 9.6 seconds to play.

"We had a ton of shots," Lancers coach Abel Schrader said. "They took away Darreon. We had shots in the middle, we had shots at the basket. We didn't do as good a job tonight finishing those shots."

But Schrader said a lackluster performance on the boards was more problematic for the Lancers.

"We scored enough points to win, (but) we didn't rebound," he said. "I would imagine they beat us really bad on the rebounds. We didn't do that bad of a job defensively, but we just could not rebound. That hurt us."

The Crusaders won despite sophomore Brendon Gooch being on the bench with four fouls for 6 minutes and 56 seconds. Gooch finished with eight points.

"To come out here and do what we did, we feel very fortunate," said Leib, whose team helped its cause by going 13-for-18 from the free-throw line in the second half.

Althoff, which lost to East 70-60 in January, led 14-12 after one quarter and 26-23 at halftime. No more than four points separated the teams in the third quarter, which ended with the Crusaders on top 38-36.

Reddick first points of the game came on a 3-pointer from the left corner that knotted the score at 46 with 4:16 to play. It was the Lancers' first lead since they went ahead 27-26 with 6:47 left in the third quarter.

Sophomore Keenen Young's free throw and Goodwin's three-point play put Althoff ahead 46-42 with 3:14 remaining, but Reddick's jumper in the lane and his two free throws made it 46-all with 2:39 left.

Renner's driving layup and two free throws made it 50-46 with 1:42 to play. Blaylock's pullup trimmed the Lancers' deficit to 50-48 with 1:12 to play, and Cox's free throw made it 50-49 at the 36.6-second mark.

Goodwin's free throw made it 53-51 with 7.6 seconds left. But he missed his second attempt and Reddick drove the length of the floor before his contested jumper at the buzzer was short.

"We didn't lose to a bad team; they're a good team," said Schrader, whose team committed a season-low two turnovers. "Darreon never got going. It's tough against a box-and-one and triangle-and-two to get going."

Contact reporter David Wilhelm at dwilhelm@bnd.com or 239-2665. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidMWilhelm.

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