Althoff fizzled while Centralia sizzled Friday.
Centralia led 24-5 after one quarter and 48-19 in the third quarter, then held off the Crusaders’ fourth-quarter comeback bid in a 68-54 victory in a South Seven Conference game.
“We got off to a great start. We were moving the ball and making all the shots, and when you make shots, everything seems real rosy – and it was,” said Orphans coach Lee Bennett, whose team ended a five-game losing streak to Althoff and picked up its first win over the Crusaders since Jan. 9, 2015.
Centralia (15-8, 4-4) saw its lead reduced to 11 points in the fourth quarter, but the Jordan Goodwin-less Crusaders’ hole was far too large to overcome.
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“Terrible start,” bemoaned Althoff coach Greg Leib. “We came out and didn’t play with the same energy we had in the second half. When you spot Centralia 20 points ... when you spot Centralia 10 points, you wish you were climbing up (Mount) Everest. It’s a tough climb.
“We kept fighting, we kept battling. But that doesn’t count for anything. It still comes out as loss. This isn’t hockey where you still get points for ties.”
It was the third consecutive loss for Althoff. The Crusaders won their first game without Goodwin, a Saint Louis University signee, beating Carbondale on the road. Since then, they’ve lost to Cahokia, Evanston and Centralia.
Althoff, however, remains tied with Centralia for first place in the conference since Cahokia lost to Marion.
The tone for the game was set in the first quarter when Centralia made 10 of its first 18 shots to grab a 19-point lead. Senior Dawson Berry closed the period with a putback at the buzzer.
The lead grew to 38-17 at the half, and when freshman Jamie Long hit a 3-pointer, the Orphans had a 48-19 advantage with 4:17 left in the third quarter.
Althoff made the game look more respectable from that point, using pressure to force the majority of Centralia’s 16 turnovers. Seniors Marvin Bateman and Edwyn Brown were the offensive ringleaders. It was too little and far too late.
“They really just passed the ball around and looked for open shots. I don’t think they took a shot that wasn’t wide-open or a layup,” Brown said of the Orphans’ early blitz. “That’s all they were doing. We’ve just got to guard better and start better.
“If we had played like we played in the second half, we would have won.”
Clearly, Althoff isn’t the same without Goodwin, who had shoulder surgery two weeks ago.
“We miss him, but we’ve got to move forward,” Brown said. “That’s our guy. But we’ve got to look for ways to win and execute.”
“What we have to do is do it together — find the open guy and that type of thing — and let the game flow to us,” Leib said. “The guys did that in the second half.”
Bateman and Brown led the Crusaders with 19 points apiece. Bateman had four 3-pointers.
Berry led the Orphans with 21 points and made 9 of his 11 shots from the field. Junior Javon Williams Jr. had 17 points, and junior Jordan Maines had 16.
Centralia shot 51 percent as it connected on 25 of 49 shots.