BELLEVILLE — On a night when the shots weren't falling and their offense was out of sync, the Althoff Crusaders relied on their competitive resolve to get the job done.
Senior guard Kevin Renner combined with sophomore Keenen Young for 12 fourth-quarter points as Althoff held off Waterloo 44-37 on Wednesday in the semifinals of the Class 3A Althoff Regional.
Leading the pesky Bulldogs just 28-25 heading into the fourth quarter, the Crusaders used two six-point spurts to put the game away.
A 12-foot jumper by freshman Jordan Goodwin began the final period and when Renner and sophomore Brendon Gooch scored 15 seconds apart, Althoff (19-9) led 34-25 with 5:47 remaining.
Waterloo (17-10), which missed five shots and had four turnovers in the opening 3:30 of the final period would get no closer the rest of the way.
"We didn't shoot the ball and on offense we were out of sync, but let's give Waterloo coach C.J. Cruser and his boys some credit for that. They came in here and played hard and have had a great season,'' Althoff coach Greg Leib said. "But we've got a competitive group. They didn't play great. But they were able to make enough plays to help us move on.''
Renner paced Althoff with 15 points while Goodwin added 13 and Gooch chipped in with 11. The win moves Althoff into the regional title game Friday, where it will take on South Seven Conference rival Cahokia.
The top-seeded Comanches rolled by Columbia 84-56 in the opening game at Althoff on Wednesday. The title game is set for 7 p.m. Friday.
"Two South Seven Conference schools battling for the regional title. It's what March Madness is all about,'' Leib said. "Cahokia and Althoff have had many great games over the years and I always love playing them because we seem to bring out the best in each other.''
A Mississippi Valley Conference power, Waterloo nearly spoiled the Cahokia-Althoff rematch on Wednesday, giving the Crusaders all they wanted all night long.
Senior Shane Lenhardt paced Waterloo with 13 points.
A 3-point jumper by senior Daniel Gardner brought the Bulldogs within six points with under four minutes left, but Renner and Young made free throws down the stretch to ice the win.
In the first semifinal:
Cahokia 84, Columbia 56: Senior Darius Austin scored 30 points and three Comanches teammates were also in double figures as top-seeded Cahokia rolled into the regional final with the easy win over the Eagles.
Columbia (9-20) managed to stay close to the state-power Comanches for the first 10 minutes before Cahokia broke the game open in the final four minutes of the first half.
The Comanches (21-8) led 37-24 at halftime.
Carleton Rivers added 15 points for Cahokia while Montez Crumble added 13.
Ryan Gudeman paced Columbia with 16 points while Cole Foster added 15.