Behind Ty’ohn Trimble’s career-high 24 points, the Alton Redbirds gave the defending Illinois Class 3A basketball champion all it could handle at the Chick-fil-A Classic at Belleville East.
But five Althoff Crusaders reached double figures, including Jordan Goodwin’s game-high 29, to put down Alton’s upset bid 87-85.
The Crusaders (11-4) will face Belleville West (10-4) in the tournament quarterfinal Friday at 6 p.m. Alton (7-7) will face McCluer in a consolation bracket game Thursday at 6 p.m.
“It’s sometimes good to be challenged and tested in close ball games,” said Althoff coach Greg Leib. “We got that tonight. We were fortunate to get out of there with a win.”
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Alton had lost four of its previous five games, including a 40-point loss to East St. Louis last week and a 25-point loss to Belleville West in its previous game.
“It was good to see a little fight from our kids,” said Alton coach Eric Smith. “It’s what I expect, but we haven’t seen it for a couple of weeks.”
Althoff built seven-point leads three times, only to see Alton battle back behind 3-point baskets from Caldwell.
A 13-2 Alton run gave the Redbirds their first lead of the game, 53-50 with 4:17 left in the third quarter. They never led again, though they tied it at 74-74 with 2:43 left when Trimble, a 5-foot-5 guard, split the Althoff defense for layup.
“He finished well against the trees. We’re swinging at him left and right, and he’s just calm and cool,” said Leib, before comparing the diminutive senior to a Pittsburgh Steelers running back. “He’s what Le’Veon Bell hopes he can be running the football.”
Edwyn Brown scored all 12 of his points in the fourth quarter, including going 5 for 5 on free throws, to keep the Crusaders on top.
Goodwin said the Crusaders were off their game in part because of a pair of weather-related cancellations, but he gave Alton all the credit for keeping it competitive.
“We haven’t played a lot — both of our games got canceled last week — and we played terrible defense but still found a way to get out of there with a win,” he said. “But (Alton does) a good job of breaking you down. All of them can shoot, and they are very unselfish, so all of them can get a chance to score.”
C.J. Coldon contributed 14 points for Althoff. Marvin Bateman added 12 points, and Dante Ray scored 10.
Kevin Caldwell and Dereaun Clay each scored 21 points for Alton. Donovan Clay had 10.