Althoff survived an epic struggle against East St. Louis on Thursday, and its reward is another shot at the Edwardsville Tigers.
Senior Jordan Goodwin scored 31 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and made four clutch free throws in the final minute of overtime as the second-seeded Crusaders slipped past third-seeded East Side 83-80 in the semifinals of the 33rd annual Collinsville-Prairie Farms Holiday Classic.
Althoff (8-2), the defending champion, will face Edwardsville (11-1) in the title game at 7:30 p.m. Friday. Edwardsville defeated Althoff 81-78 on Nov. 26 in Highland.
“My team had a lot of confidence in me going to the line, and I had a lot of confidence, too,” said Goodwin, who made two tying free throws and followed with two more that put Althoff ahead to stay at 80-78 with 43.2 seconds left in OT. “I live for moments like that.
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“This game (ranked) up there. I’m more excited for part two next week, but this one was up there. Us being friends (with East St. Louis) makes the rivalry even better. We were talking trash to them, and they were talking trash to us. At the end of the day, it’s just basketball.”
Althoff will play East St. Louis again Jan. 7 at the Highland Shootout.
Goodwin, who shared a visit with his future coach, Saint Louis University’s Travis Ford, as the capacity crowd of 3,500 shuffled for the exits, has scored 179 points in his last five games.
Goodwin can’t wait for another chance against Edwardsville, which advanced to the championship game with a 66-41 win over fourth-seeded Springfield Southeast.
“I’m ready for this game. It’s my rematch,” Goodwin said. “I felt like the first game, we played bad.”
Althoff led 43-40 at halftime and extended the advantage to 63-57 on a basket by Goodwin with 1:44 left in the third quarter. But a 3-pointer by East Side’s Zachery Forest brought the Flyers within 63-62 at the end of the period.
The Flyers led 70-66 when Jeremiah Tilmon scored with 5:21 to play. The game was tied at 74 when Althoff held the ball for the final 1:45 of regulation, hoping for the winning shot.
But C.J. Coldon missed a 3-pointer, as did Goodwin as time expired.
East St. Louis went ahead 78-76 in overtime on a basket by sophomore Terrence Hargrove Jr., but Goodwin made two free throws to tie it at 78 with 49.8 seconds remaining.
Hargrove Jr. fouled out with 43.2 seconds left. Goodwin made two free throws to put the Crusaders ahead 80-78. Edwyn Brown’s two free throws made it 82-78 with 14.9 seconds left, but Tilmon had a dunk at the other end, and Brown made one of two free throws with 5.5 seconds left, giving East Side one more chance.
The Flyers, however, lost the ball and time expired.
“Coming up with those four free throws, that was the difference,” Althoff coach Greg Leib said of Goodwin’s shots from the line. “That’s why we’re sitting here happy. That hot dog is going to taste good.
“(Goodwin) is a competitor. He’s a sincere kid. I know when he was missing (free throws), it’s eating at him. He’s digging down deep. He’s got a great shot. He came up with it.”
Leib, like Goodwin, is eager for the rematch with Edwardsville.
“It’s awesome,” he said. “Mike Waldo is the best coach around and they’ve got a great team. I know the guys want to get another shot at them after what happened at Thanksgiving. Now we’ve got our wish. We’ll see where we’re at and how well we’ve progressed.”
Coldon added 22 points for Althoff, while Dante Ray had 15 points and Brown had 10.
Tilmon led East St. Louis with 26 points and 12 rebounds. Arthur Carter had 20 points, and Hargrove Jr. had 10 points and 11 rebounds.
East Side overcame an 18-point deficit in the afternoon quarterfinals and defeated Decatur MacArthur. The Flyers will play Southeast for third place at 6 p.m. Friday.