Jordan Goodwin will not rest until the job is done.
The 6-foot-3 Goodwin led the Althoff boys basketball team to three decisive victories last week. But the junior much prefers to look toward the future, not live in the past.
“We’re playing to win state,” Goodwin said. “That’s the only reason why we’re playing. We’re not playing to lose. Every game, we’re going to treat it like it’s a state game.”
Goodwin averaged 22.6 points in wins against Belleville East (79-60), Cahokia (87-66) and Chicago Kenwood (80-64), earning the News-Democrat’s Athlete of the Week award.
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“The team played well the whole week. We guarded well,” Goodwin said. “We were being unselfish, getting our buckets and passing the ball up the court. Everybody seemed to be feeling it. Hopefully, it carries over into this weekend (at Centralia and Belleville West).”
Goodwin saved his best for Kenwood in the second annual Bank of O’Fallon Shootout on Saturday in O’Fallon, scoring 30 points and grabbing 11 rebounds as the Crusaders improved to 21-2 with an 80-64 victory over the No. 3-ranked team in the state’s Class 4A poll.
We’re playing to win state. That’s the only reason why we’re playing. We’re not playing to lose. Every game, we’re going to treat it like it’s a state game.
Althoff junior basketball player Jordan Goodwin
Goodwin was 11-for-18 from the field and 6-for-9 from the free-throw line as Althoff extended its winning streak to nine.
“Kenwood was such a good opponent, and Jordan stepped up and rose to the occasion. He made some tough shots and he made some big shots,” said Althoff coach Greg Leib, whose team was ranked second n the Class 3A poll. “Competing against a 6-foot-8 guy inside for rebounds (Manny Patterson) and winning those battles, that was the fun part. That was the enjoyable part as a coach to watch. He just steps up.”
Goodwin sets the tone for the Crusaders, but he consistently shares the credit with his teammates. Without seniors Brendon Gooch, Tarkus Ferguson and Keenen Young, and juniors C.J. Coldon and Marvin Bateman, among others, Goodwin said he wouldn’t have developed into the player he has become. Certainly, there would be no state-title aspirations.
“We all feed off each other,” Goodwin said. “Yeah, I can score, but I get happy when I get an assist. I see Gooch coming down the lane and throw him a pass and he scores. And it makes me happy when I see our bench (succeed). Our bench does a great job of keeping us focused. They’re talking to us on defense as well as everybody else.”
Goodwin and Ferguson hooked up for a remarkable play in the win over Kenwood. Late in the second quarter, Ferguson controlled a rebound and saw Goodwin streaking down the floor.
Playing the role of a quarterback, Ferguson threw a long pass that hit Goodwin in stride, and Goodwin completed the play with a one-handed dunk that put Althoff ahead 36-23.
“Me and Tark’s communication is great,” Goodwin said. “That’s just from playing with each other for so long. We have good chemistry together.”
A scary thought for Crusaders’ opponents is Goodwin’s belief that the team will improve during the final weeks of the season.
After all, Althoff already has won the prestigious Collinsville-Prairie Farms Holiday Classic in December, the Chick-fil-A Classic at Belleville East in January and the Bank of O’Fallon Shootout game. Goodwin was the MVP of both tournaments and the game against Kenwood.
“I think there’s probably like two more levels we can go up,” Goodwin said. “Our defense has played well, but our defense can be great. There’s been a few times where we’ve let up. We’ll (defend) for 30 seconds, then give up a rebound and a putback. We need to limit our turnovers. We all take bad shots. If we limit our bad shots, we’ll be better, too.
“Personally, I can play better. I can do a lot more for my team. I see a lot I can improve: my free throws, passing the ball more, rebounding, guarding. With this team, there’s no such thing as being full. Everybody’s hungry.”
Personally, I can play better. I can do a lot more for my team. I see a lot I can improve: my free throws, passing the ball more, rebounding, guarding. With this team, there’s no such thing as being full. Everybody’s hungry.
Jordan Goodwin on his performance for the Crusaders
Althoff was runner-up to St. Joseph Academy in the Class 3A state-title game last season in Peoria. Goodwin said the loss still stings, but he has an anecdote for the discomfort: Get back to the state tournament and finish the job.
But there’s more.
“If we win state this year,” Goodwin said, “next year, with our seniors gone, me and C.J., Marvin and Edwyn (Brown) better be hungry. If we win it one time, I want to win it two times.”
Goodwin has offers from Illinois, Missouri, Purdue, Virginia Tech and Illinois State, among others. Leib doesn’t expect a decision from Goodwin until at least summer, but he’s convinced the versatile Goodwin will would be a strong addition for any program.
“The game has changed quite a bit,” Leib said. “Other than your point guard and maybe your center, the rest of the guys are all kind of interchangeable. You see some teams start four guards. Jordan does a little bit of everything. A college coach is looking to see if a kid can guard. (Goodwin) is just trying to keep an open mind.”