After three years of coming up short, Maggie Reimer, Kyleigh Vaught and the rest of the Althoff Crusaders girls basketball team finally got the best of Belleville West on Saturday night in a nonconference game played at Belleville West High School.
Vaught and Reimer combined for 41 points as the Crusaders defeated Belleville West 54-48.
Winless against the Maroons in the past three years, Althoff used a 16-2 scoring run midway through the first half as it broke an 11-all tie and took a 27-13 lead.
Ranked eighth in the Class 4A state basketball poll, the Maroons rallied in the second half, cutting a 16-point deficit to two on a 3-point field goal by Kaylee Hanger with 1:17 remaining.
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But free throws by Vaught and Ellie Martz helped Althoff hold off the West comeback.
“It feels good. We lost by one point to West last year, and this being our last chance at beating them, the seniors really wanted this one,” Reimer said. “We played well, and this means a great deal.”
The win is the third in a row and fourth in its last five games for Althoff (6-3). The Crusaders can clinch the Belleville city championship Wednesday when they travel to Belleville East.
“We’re going to enjoy this one for tonight,” an elated Althoff coach Nick Knolhoff said. “We told the girls at halftime, that they (West) would make a run at us, and they did. We did a good job in our delay game and made the free throws down the stretch.”
Making free throws is something West didn’t do. The Maroons (6-2) were just 3-of-13 from the line in the first half and finished the game with just a 9-of-22 effort from the charity stripe.
“You look at the game, and if we make half of our free throws in the first half, and maybe its a different game,” West coach Seth Garrett said. “I told the girls I was proud of the way we fought back and gave ourselves a chance. But we didn’t do a very good job on something we spend a lot of time doing and that’s shooting free throws.”
Althoff kept West guard Chamya Darough in check in the first half, and Vaught and Reimer led the offense for the Crusaders. The duo combined to score 18 of the team’s 20 points in the second quarter as Althoff took a 14-point lead.
“That was probably the best two quarters of basketball we’ve put together all year,” Knolhoff said. “Our zone was working, we were able to make some shots and I thought we just did a great job in all areas of the game.
“This is a big win for us. I know it means a lot to our girls, especially the seniors.”
Reimer led Althoff with 24 points, while Vaught added 17. Chamya Darough led West with 21 points.