Boys Basketball

Crusaders conquer Panthers to open regional

Althoff senior CJ Coldon talks about the win

Belleville Althoff Catholic High School senior CJ Coldon talks about the Crusaders' regional victory over the O'Fallon Township High School Panthers in the IHSA Class 4A Belleville East regional.
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Belleville Althoff Catholic High School senior CJ Coldon talks about the Crusaders' regional victory over the O'Fallon Township High School Panthers in the IHSA Class 4A Belleville East regional.

Althoff turned on the afterburners in the third quarter Monday.

The Crusaders used a 13-2 run in a stretch of 2:04 to take control of the O’Fallon Panthers en route to a 79-58 victory in a first-round game of the Class 4A Belleville East Regional.

“Coach (Greg) Leib always talks about (how) the first three minutes of the second half defines the second half,” said Althoff senior CJ Coldon, whose 24 points led all scorers. “We had to play harder than we did in the first half. We had to hit the easy shots we missed in the first half.”

Leib said there was nowhere to go but up for the Crusaders in the second half.

“We missed a bunch of shots the first half,” he said. “We settled down in the second half and the guys’ defense (was better). They were playing the passing lanes a little bit better and we were able to get some runout buckets.”

Sixth-seeded Althoff (18-10) advanced to semifinals and will meet No. 2 East St. Louis (17-7) in the semifinals at 7 p.m. Tuesday. The teams split two games this season.

Eighth-seeded O’Fallon, which led 16-11 after one quarter and 20-16 less than three minutes into the second quarter, finished 14-14 under first-year coach Brian Muniz.

“We couldn’t hit shots all night and then we forced some things,” Muniz said. “Every time we missed a layup or had a turnover, they turned it into two or three points. They’re really good in transition and they can score with the best of them.”

Key moment

The game was tied at 29 when the Crusaders began their 13-2 run. Senior Edwyn Brown sparked the drive with seven points, including a three-point play that was followed by a steal and a layup that made it 42-31.

Brown picked up his fourth foul with 4:03 to play in the period, sending him to the bench. Althoff went to a zone defense and maintained the lead, then took complete control by scoring eight of the first 10 points in the fourth quarter to move ahead 59-43.

Brown returned midway through the fourth quarter and had a running dunk that to boost the margin to 67-52, and the Crusaders capped off the victory with a 12-1 surge.

“Other guys picked it up,” Leib said. “I’ve got (enough) trust in some of these younger guys to give them opportunities. We either succeed or fail. We did that and they gave us great minutes. Melvin Brock. Di’mond Salmond. Justin Strong. Khalifa Muhammad. All those guys gave us great minutes off the bench.”

Key performers

Senior Marvin Bateman scored 16 points and made three 3-pointers for Althoff, while Brown finished with 14 points and Bryson Strong had eight.

Junior Jalen Hodge had 17 points to lead the Panthers. Senior Alex Orr had 12. 

David Wilhelm: 618-239-2665, @DavidMWilhelm

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