The white-hot Cahokia Comanches put an end to Althoff’s dominance of the South Seven Conference on Friday.
On senior night, the Comanches handed the Crusaders their first conference loss in more than two years, 95-69. In doing so, they claimed a share of the South Seven lead.
“It feels good to be back up here,” said Cahokia coach Darian Nash. “Usually we get right back to work, but I’m going to let them enjoy it, live the moment and watch the Super Bowl, and then get back to work Monday. There’s still some season left.”
Uncommitted 6-foot-6 senior Thomas “Taco” Bell scored 33 points, his best performance since posting 35 against Collinsville on Jan. 21. Jakorey Davis scored 26 for the Comanches.
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“I’ll tell you what, Taco Bell had fire sauce on tonight,” said Althoff head coach Greg Leib. “There was nothing we could do.”
The Crusaders (14-6, 6-1), Illinois 3A champions last season and runners-up in 2015, hadn’t lost a conference game since falling to Centralia on Jan. 9, 2015. For the Comanches (16-7, 6-1), it was their first win over the Crusaders since March 2014.
Cahokia has now won eight in a row and 11 of its last 12.
“We’ve got to take a lesson from this and try not to repeat it again,” Leib said.
Both teams have three conference games remaining.
Althoff had to overcome a slow start to take its first lead of the game at the 1:31 mark of the first quarter. Senior Marvin Bateman then drained consecutive three pointers put the Crusaders ahead by seven.
But a dunk by 6-foot-6 sophomore Richard Robinson sparked a seven-point run that got away from the Crusaders. Davis and Damond Harrison hit threes as part of a 26-7 rally that put Cahokia on top 44-32 at the half.
“We were hoping they’d go to their 1-3-1 (zone defense) because we had watched it on film and felt we could attack and get to the hole,” Nash said. “We worked on it all week and saw the result of that extra effort. We executed the way we wanted to.”
The Comanches picked up where they left off after the intermission, running off another 9-0 run with four straight from the free throw line by Bell and another 3-pointer from Davis. A pair of easy layups by Richard Robinson put Cahokia ahead, 62-42 midway through the third quarter, and in command through the end.
C.J. Coldon scored 24 to lead the Crusaders while Bateman added 18. Althoff shot 19-for-43 (40.6 percent) from the field and 10-for-16 from the free throw line.
Cahokia sophomore Elijah Rice contributed 11 points for the Comanches. The Comanches were 32-for-53 (60.4 percent) from the field including six 3-pointers. They missed their first two free throws of the night, but finished 22-for-28 including a string of 13 straight.