Jordan Goodwin was a slam-dunk winner as the News-Democrat’s latest Athlete of the Week.
Jordan, a 6-foot-3 sophomore at Althoff High, bagged the award for the second time this season behind three monster games against Belleville East, Carbondale and Westchester St. Joseph.
Goodwin had 27 points last Tuesday in a 79-59 win over East, 19 points Friday in a 72-55 victory at Carbondale and 33 points and 14 rebounds Saturday in a 97-95 loss in two overtimes against St. Joseph in the inaugural Bank of O’Fallon Shootout.
“The competition was good,” Goodwin said of the game Saturday, which might have been a preview of the Class 3A state tournament final. “It let us know how hard we need to play to win a state game. They just came out on top that time. That loss was hard, but it was a good loss. It let us know what we need to work on. We’re happy we lost now rather than in March.”
Goodwin is averaging 20.3 points and has proved nearly impossible to contain in the lane, whether as a scorer or rebounder. His tenacity frustrates opponents, most of whom are unable to keep up with the end-to-end challenge provided by the Crusaders (20-3).
Goodwin seldom has an off game, and he thrived against the talent thrown at the Crusaders by St. Joseph (17-5), led by legendary 78-year-old coach Gene Pingatore.
Goodwin showed he belonged in the same neighborhood with Division I recruits like Glynn Watson (Nebraska), Jordan Ash (Northwestern) and Nick Rakocevic, who along with Chaminade’s Jayson Tatum is considered one of the top juniors in the country.
“When I was playing, I didn’t worry about anything but us having more points than them,” Goodwin said. “I wanted to do anything I could to win. We did a good job of finishing, they did a good job of finishing. They were good, too. ... A lot of games we play, we either overpower a team or we beat a team by 10. It was good going down to the wire.”
While Watson scored 38 points and Ash and Rakocevic were factors, Goodwin said he was most impressed with St. Joseph senior Joffery Brown, who hit the game-winning jumper in the final second of the second overtime.
“I think we all kind of play different, but if I had to pick somebody from their team, I would say (No.) 21,” Goodwin said of Brown. “He was their best offensive rebounder.”
Althoff hurt itself with a 21-for-38 showing from the free-throw line. That contributed to the Crusaders’ inability to hold a 13-point lead late in regulation and a seven-point advantage in the first four-minute overtime period.
“It opened our eyes up a lot,” Goodwin said. “We couldn’t finish the game off. We think we can beat that team. We talked about it on the way home.”
Goodwin remains bullish on the Crusaders, whose only other losses are to Collinsville and Centralia. His supporting cast includes juniors Brendon Gooch and Tarkus Ferguson and sophomores C.J. Coldon and Marvin Bateman.
“Gooch is capable of carrying the load, the same as Tarkus,” Goodwin said. “We’ve got Keenen (Young) back, too. He’s our leader.”
As good as the Crusaders already were in the early weeks of the season, Goodwin said they’ve made much remarkable progress in the last two months.
“I think the season is going better,” he said. “We’re way better on defense. We’re just going to try to win state. Coach (Greg) Leib told me we’re going to win out – don’t lose from here on until March. That would be great. It’s possible.”
Goodwin said the recruiting game is heating up. He receives at least two letters a week, most recently from St. Louis University.
“I’m not getting any offers yet,” Goodwin said. “(But) it’s fun.”