Althoff’s CJ Coldon scored the final five points of the game to lift the Crusaders to a 53-52 victory over Mater Dei on Saturday.
Leading most of the contest, Althoff watched Mater Dei pound the ball inside to its 6-foot-8 senior center Mason Toennies throughout the second half to gradually slice into what had been a nine-point halftime deficit.
A pair of Toennies free throws with 4:28 to go tied it at 46.
A basket from Noel Robben followed by two more buckets from Lucas Theising later had the Knights in front 52-48 with 1:40 remaining.
That is when Coldon, a starter on last season’s Class 3A state championship team, went to work.
First, Coldon hit the back end of a two-shot foul, cutting the deficit to three with 1:34 remaining.
Then, after Mater Dei missed consecutive front ends of the one-and-one, the senior hit a basket pulling the Crusaders within 52-51 with 28.1 seconds left.
Mater Dei then attempted a long inbound pass out of a timeout, only to have Cordell Beckmann miss a defended layup. Toennies grabbed the rebound and was fouled while attempting the putback.
He also missed his front-end free throw, giving Althoff possession with 18.5 seconds left.
That set the stage for Colden’s game-winner, as he cashed in off a missed shot by Edwyn Brown with 3.6 seconds to go.
“I kind of knew the layup was going to come off a little hard,” said Colden, who finished with 13 points, “so I just tried to put myself into good position to get a good tip.”
Mater Dei did get off a desperation 3-pointer, and Theising’s shots appeared on line, but it rimmed off.
"That shot (at the end) was in and out,” said Althoff coach Greg Leib. “Great ballgame. CJ got a nice tip in.
“And we had to catch a little luck. They missed some free throws. That helped create that luck.”
The victory was their second in a row for the Crusaders (16-9) following a four-game losing streak. Althoff is 3-4 since losing All-State senior Jordan Goodwin for the season following shoulder surgery.
“We know that even without Jordan, we’ve got the guys and enough heart to win,” said Colden. “We just needed to get out of that slump.
“This is a big win; it’s a rivalry game and their senior night. We had to play hard.”
Mater Dei coach Ron Schadegg was pleased with how his team rallied. Down by nine at halftime, the Knights still trailed by eight entering the final quarter. Toennies led their comeback scoring 13 of his game-high 22 points in the second half.
“There is a lot of good things we can take from this,” said Schadegg, whose team dropped to 16-10. “Mason really kind of had his way inside at times, and we really made a nice comeback against a team that had maybe four Division I athletes on the floor.
“We make a few free throws, avoid a couple of turnovers there at the end, and it might have come out different.”
Dante Ray topped Althoff with 15 points. Marvin Bateman had all 10 of his points in the first half, as the Crusaders took a 35-26 lead into the break.
Cordell Beckman scored eight points for Mater Dei.