The moral of the story: You cannot flinch for a second against the Althoff Crusaders.
Twice during the Crusaders’ 76-63 win over Marion, Althoff appeared to be on the ropes. In both instances it answered with serious spurts.
“That’s basketball,” said Althoff coach Greg Leib. “I wish I could say I drew it up. Those things happen when you work with high school kids. They’re trying their best. Sometimes it works out. Sometimes it doesn’t.”
After falling behind early, Marion’s 2-3 zone started taking a toll on the Crusaders.
“We wanted to make them shoot outside, and we wanted to run,” said Marion coach Dave Brown. “It protected the rim, which is important against Althoff. And, it lets our guards get out and go.”
The Wildcats had an 8-0 run late in the quarter and took a 14-13 lead into the second. Justin Johnson’s stickback bucket pushed the lead to 18-15.
For the next three minutes, Marion saw several open shots roll out of the basket, and Althoff seemed to have all the answers. A 13-2 run started with one of Marvin Bateman’s six treys, and Edwyn Brown put together a 3-point play on a steal and a flush.
The Crusaders went on to take an 11-point lead at intermission and appeared to be cruising when Marion went on a 16-0 run fueled by Justin Shadowens and Cole Schafer. Shafer had eight of those points and Shadowens six.
“No. 2 (Shadowens), I sure am glad he’s a senior,” Leib said. “He’s a headsy players. I wish he was hitting more baseballs in the winter time.”
Shadowens’ floater in the lane gave the Wildcats a 47-44 lead, but once again the Crusaders had an answer. Three-straight Marion turnovers led to Althoff run outs. Then, the Crusaders scored the first 10 points of the fourth quarter to put the game away.
“It’s kind of like those teams that can flip the switch a little bit, and that’s what they did,” said Brown. “But I was proud of the way our boys pushed the ball. We really pushed the ball and attacked. We didn’t let up or back down. It’s not in me to back down. These guys aren’t backing down on anything.”
The 16-0 blitz took just 2:41.
“The guys picked them up fullcourt, and we were able to get some buckets out of that,” Leib said. “We got some stops. We just have to be able to get stops.”
“They’re a great team,” Brown said. “We’ve played a lot of good teams, but they’re a great team. You’ve got some really phenomenal D-I players on that team that can really shoot outside and take it to the rim. That’s no secret to anybody.”
Marion sliced the deficit to nine points on a Shadowens bucket with 2:44 to play, but a pair of run outs by Saint Louis University recruit Jordan Goodwin and CJ Coldon sealed the deal.
Bateman led the Crusaders with 23 points, including six treys. Goodwin had 22.
“He just shoots it,” Leib said. “Marvin does a good job. He gets his feet set. He’s really earned it though. He works at it a great deal. If they’re going to allow him to shoot, we have to live with that. But, we did a better job in the second half of attacking that 2-3 and not just settling for an open three.”
Shadowens led Marion with 19, while Schafer had 14 and Terrell Henderson turned in a double-double — 13 points and 11 rebounds. Jackson Connor added 11.
“What about 19 from Shadowens?” Brown said. “And, his turnovers were low. He was a point guard tonight; he really was.”