Boys Basketball

Led by Goodwin, Althoff basketball sets sights on state title

Althoff senior Jordan Goodwin talks about upcoming basketball season

Illinois Mr. Basketball candidate Jordan Goodwin, a Saint Louis University recruit, heads a strong returning class of talent for the defending Illinois Class 3A state champion Althoff Crusaders.
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Illinois Mr. Basketball candidate Jordan Goodwin, a Saint Louis University recruit, heads a strong returning class of talent for the defending Illinois Class 3A state champion Althoff Crusaders.

In three years with Jordan Goodwin in the lineup, the Althoff Crusaders are 81-17.

They won the Class 3A state championship last season and finished 32-2. His sophomore year, Althoff was 30-4 and finished second in the state. Nine of those 17 losses came his freshman year.

Already signed with Saint Louis University, the talented 6-foot-4-inch guard is the top returnee for an Althoff team that was ranked fifth in the nation by MaxPreps.com.

“This team is very different,” said Goodwin, an Illinois Mr. Basketball and All-American candidate who averaged 19 points, nine rebounds and 3.2 assists last season for the state champs. “People might think we’re not going to be good because a lot of our seniors left, but it’s time for the other guys to step up. This team is fast, we can guard and everybody doesn’t care who scores.

“We’re going to be unselfish and we’re going to score the basketball just like last year.”

Althoff opens the season with a 6:30 p.m. game Monday against O’Fallon at the Highland Bulldogs Thanksgiving Tournament. Among the marquee games on the schedule are Dec. 3 vs. Chicago Curie at the Marshall County (Ky.) Shootout; Jan. 7 vs. East St. Louis at the Highland Optimist Shootout; and Feb. 4 vs. Evanston at the Bank of O’Fallon Shootout.

This team is very different. People might think we’re not going to be good because a lot of our seniors left, but it’s time for the other guys to step up. This team is fast, we can guard and everybody doesn’t care who scores.

Althoff senior Jordan Goodwin

The Crusaders lost Brendon Gooch (Southern Illinois University Carbondale), Tarkus Fergson (Illinois-Chicago) and Keenen Young (football at Jackson State), but shouldn’t have much of a talent dropoff.

Senior three-year starter C.J. Coldon (10.8 points per game) returns along with 6-foot-5-inch senior 3-point marksman Marvin Bateman (11 points per game, 77 three-pointers) and 6-foot-6-inch senior Edwyn Brown. Brown missed most of last season with a foot injury, but has drawn Division I recruiting interest in both football and basketball.

“What’s fun about high school is we lost some really good players, but now the roles and some of the jobs those guys did will be assumed by somebody else,” Althoff coach Greg Leib said. “It’s always fun as a high school coach to see how kids mature and how they handle that transition.”

Leib’s team moves up to Class 4A for the playoffs this season because of Illinois High School Association’s “success factor” formula for private schools. That won’t make the target on their backs any smaller.

Goodwin is going to see a lot of time at point guard this season and will be counted on for a little bit of everything.

“I think you’re just going to see an expansion of what he does,” Leib said. “Every year he’s developed, whether it be shooting, ball handling or his perimeter game. I think he’s going to be more of a complete player than what he was last year.

“It may be called upon for him to score more, to add more assists. He’s willing to assume whatever role it takes for us to be successful.”

More scoring will come from Bateman, Coldon and Brown.

Our margin of error, for the regional especially, has just shrunk so much because there’s so many good teams and talent there. If you have a let-up or you don’t bring your ‘A’ effort, you might find yourself getting the uniform tub out.

Althoff coach Greg Leib on moving up to 4A from 3A for the playoffs

Many of Althoff’s top players were also key players on the football team that saw its season end Saturday with a Class 4A quarterfinals loss to Rochester. Some have been in and out of practice this week, including Brown, Coldon and senior Bryson Strong.

“What we’ll see with them is being more assertive offensively,” Leib said of Coldon and Brown. “Defensively they do a great job already, and they both can guard multiple positions. Offensively, instead of deferring to Tarkus or Keenen or Gooch, now they’re going to have that ability to go out there and make those plays.”

Top candidates to fill the role of fifth starter and key spots in the regular rotation are 6-foot-4-inch senior Dante Ray, Strong and senior guards Ryder Goodwin, Di’Mond Salmond and Melvin Brock. Sophomore Khalifa Muhammad, who grew up in Belleville and transferred from Chaminade last year, and junior Ryan McDonald are also in the mix.

The football playoff loss stung the Crusaders, and Goodwin feels it should be good motivation.

“After the game we lost, I texted a group chat and said ‘We’ve just got to take it out on the basketball court,’” he said. “Losing that game (to Rochester) opened our eyes that we know we can lose, so we’ve got to play hard every single play.”

They did it last season, losing only once with its full roster to nationally-ranked Chaminade, which was led by current Duke freshman Jayson Tatum.

The move to 4A in the playoffs puts Althoff squarely in the path of the always tough Southwestern Conference teams. Winning a regional and sectional figures to be tougher than in 3A, though there was plenty of stiff competition there in the latter stages of the 3A playoffs.

“Our margin of error, for the regional especially, has just shrunk so much because there’s so many good teams and talent there,” Leib said. “If you have a let-up or you don’t bring your ‘A’ effort, you might find yourself getting the uniform tub out.”

Norm Sanders: 618-239-2454, @NormSanders

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