A battle between two state-ranked teams did not disappoint Friday night.
In just more than two minutes of action in the fourth quarter, the Althoff Crusaders turned a tight ball game into a double-digit victory.
The fourth-ranked Crusaders used a 13-0 run, in just two minutes and three seconds, to defeat sixth-ranked Carbondale, 72-55, in South Seven Conference boys basketball.
Althoff (20-2, 6-1) claimed sole possession of first place in the conference as well.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to Belleville News-Democrat
“We found the open guy, and the guys have been doing a great job of that all year,” said Althoff coach Greg Leib. “We were able to get some stops defensively, and that was a big reason for that run. We had them shooting jump shots, and we were just fortunate enough that some of them didn’t hit.”
Carbondale’s center, Jordan Kelly, swatted a three-point attempt by Marvin Bateman, and the ball came to Allen Billinger, who scored, to slice the Althoff advantage to just 56-53 with 5:39 left in the game.
That’s when the Crusaders exploded for the impressive 13-point streak. Tarkus Ferguson buried a 3-pointer to begin the run, and Bateman drained two shots from beyond the arc. Brendon Gooch added a pair of baskets in the paint, and that was all she wrote.
Both teams held numerous leads throughout the game, but the Crusaders came up huge in the clutch.
“When you’re playing quality teams, they’re going to make runs, and we couldn’t counter that last run,” said Carbondale coach Jim Miller. “I thought Althoff shot the ball so well in that second half, and they created problems for us. We started stressing and pressing a little bit, and it took us out of our rhythm offensively. It’s their length at the defensive end that causes you to take off balance shots.”
Carbondale (20-4, 5-2) used runs of nine and 10 points in the first half to keep the Crusaders behind for quite a while. But much like the fourth quarter, Althoff always had an answer.
Billinger made a jump shot to extend the Terrier lead to 32-24 with 3:13 left in the second quarter. The Crusaders proceeded to rip off 11 straight points and ultimately took a 35-34 halftime lead.
“It was a great battle, and Jim Miller is a tremendous coach and a great friend of mine,” Leib said. “It’s always fun competing against he and (Mike) Butler. It’s fierce, but it’s friendly. We’re like the old school guys where we still like one another after the game.”
Jordan Goodwin had his way in the paint, especially in the first half, and scored a game-high 19 points. Ferguson added 16 for the Crusaders. Billinger paced Carbondale with 17 points, and Moe Jackson tallied 14.