If Monday night was Althoff senior Jordan Goodwin and his teammates shaking off some rust from their recently ended football season, there are plenty of bright days ahead for the state champion Crusaders.
Goodwin poured in 32 of his game-high 35 points in the first three quarters and also grabbed 11 rebounds as Althoff survived a tight first half and then rolled to an 88-68 season-opening victory over O’Fallon at the Highland Thanksgiving Tournament.
“He just competed,” Althoff coach Greg Leib said of his senior St. Louis University recruit. “Once he gets it really going and that football rust gets knocked off, we’ll see what he can get done.”
Goodwin had two monster dunks in the first half and after missing his first four free throws, a weakness at times last season, he sank six in a row and seven of his next eight.
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He knows the Crusaders, coming off a 3A state championship and moving up to 4A for the playoff this season, are in for a challenge every time they step on the court. They began the season ranked fifth in the country by MaxPreps.com.
“We know we’ve got a target on our back,” Goodwin said. “Coach Leib keeps us a humble. we’re a humble team. The chemistry is still there.”
And the talent.
“When he’s attacking the basket and being aggressive and hitting his free throws, it puts the pressure on the other team’s defense,” Leib said. “He’s very crafty around the basket and he does a lot of good things there. He doesn’t beat himself too many times, that’s why he is the player that he is.”
Althoff put four players in double-figure scoring, with Dante Ray tossing in 17, Edwyn Brown contributing 15 and C.J. Coldon 12.
In the head coaching debut of O’Fallon’s Brian Muniz, the Panthers (0-1) used their quickness and attacked the basket to stay within 39-36 of Althoff at halftime.
“We competed very well the first half, I was proud of our first half,” Muniz said. “The second half it got away from us a bit, but their top five guys are so good that we had trouble keeping up with them without getting into foul trouble.”
Goodwin exploded for 15 points in the third quarter to help the Crusaders outscore O’Fallon 26-14. Things were never close again.
“They hit some threes and they got some layups and we just had a hard time answering all of that at the same time,” said Muniz, whose team had no answer for the athletic Goodwin. “If we didn’t put a body on him he was at the rim getting rebounds and he hit some nice jumpers. He’s got a complete game.
“We’re looking at who did we have to guard him, and we really didn’t have that guy I thought could contain him.”
Few teams too, but Goodwin is just one big piece of the Crusaders’ puzzle. Leib was glad to see four players in double figures.
“You’re going to see that, and that’s going to change from game to game,” he said.
Goodwin had 10 of Althoff’s 19 points in the opening quarter and 17 at halftime.
O’Fallon’s Jalen Hodge finished with 16 points while Alex Orr had 12. Ryan Fulton and Deion Norfleet each had 11 points for the Panthers.
Edwardsville 80, Waterloo 52
Edwardsville senior Oliver Stephen scored 34 points and tied his own school record by sinking 10 3-pointers, including seven during a torrid first half, to help the Tigers cruise past Waterloo. Stephen drained seven of his eight 3-point tries in the first half and was 10-for-13 overall. Senior guard Mark Smith added 22 points for Edwardsville, which rested football players A.J Epenesa, Nathan Kolesa and R.J. Wilson.
Waterloo got 15 points from Dylan Hunt and 13 by Ben Huels.
Carbondale 40, Highland 35
Carbondale spoiled the debut of new Highland coach Brian Perkes as the Terriers got 16 points from Kani Acree and nine from Darius Beane to win the tourney opener. The Bulldogs (0-1) used tight defense and a controlled pace to keep things close, but Carbondale created a little separation in the fourth quarter and hung on for the win.
Sophomore Sam La Porta scored 10 of Highland’s first 15 points, but was held to only four points in the second half on the way to scoring 14 on the night. Sophomore Stephen Schniers had eight points for Highland.