After scoring five points in about a three-second span at the end of the third quarter Friday, including a long 3-pointer with a defender right in his face, Althoff sophomore Jordan Goodwin knew it was his night.
Goodwin erupted for 14 of his 32 points in the decisive third quarter as the Crusaders wrapped up the South Seven Conference title with a 65-50 victory.
“When I hit the buzzer-beater, I knew I was on,” said Goodwin, whose team avenged a 63-53 loss to the Orphans earlier this season. “Centralia had beat us (before). I came out and my team knew how important it was to me. They gave me the ball in good looks. We just played great.”
Althoff (23-3 overall, 8-1 in league play) entered the game ranked fifth in the state in Class 3A while Centralia (21-5, 5-4) was ranked sixth.
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“It was great, this was my first time beating Centralia in a rivalry game,” Goodwin said.
But unlike the previous meeting, when Althoff kept firing away from the outside with little success, the Crusaders hit shots when they needed them. They were 14-for-20 from the floor in the second half (20-for-41 overall).
“We were able to guard a little bit better,” Althoff coach Greg Leib said. “We still gave up a lot of easy buckets but we were able to get some shots where we wanted to instead of settling for contested jump shots. That was the focus tonight.”
Centralia coach Lee Bennett’s squad owns one of Althoff’s three losses, but he still says the Crusaders are a difficult matchup.
“They’re all big and strong and long and they’re all skilled ... they can go wherever they want whenever they want,” Bennett said. “That’s quite a conglomeration right there now. Things have got to line up better for us to beat them.”
It was only the second South Seven Conference title for Althoff during Leib’s tenure.
“I’ve been Julia Roberts about six times, ‘Runaway Bride,’” Leib said. “Five times we’ve gotten second place but it’s the (South) Seven. You’ve got to have a little luck and you’ve got to have great group of guys. With a team like Centralia we gave up way too many easy buckets.
“We’ve got to clean that up before we play one another again, which possibly could happen.”
Althoff was leading by only four early in the third quarter when Goodwin grabbed the game and took it for a ride. He scored six straight points before hitting a rebound bucket late in the quarter and then draining a 3-pointer following a Centralia turnover.
His 14 points in the quarter pushed Althoff’s lead to 41-31 and the Crusaders pulled away from there.
“He just comes out there and competes,” Leib said of Goodwin, who averages 20 points per game. “I think that’s best trait to have in the game of anything you do, whatever you choose to do in life. Just having that competitive edge and the will. He could play for (Vince) Lombardi the way he got after it tonight.”
Sophomore Marvin Bateman came off the bench to add 11 points for Althoff while Brendon Gooch had nine and Tarkus Ferguson had eight. Centralia got 18 points from Ryan Obermeier, 13 from D’Aaron Owens and 11 from Dawson Berry.
Bennett said the margin of error is slim when playing the Crusaders.
“We’re not going to go out there and blow them out,” Bennett said. “Every rebound is so hard for us relative to them, that’s how it is. Even when we get them to take bad shots, they have such a good chance to go get them.
“We can’t just go shut them down, we don’t have the size, the strength, the quickness to do that.”
The teams battled through a tight first half with Obermeier doing much damage for the Orphans on power moves to the basket. Althoff led 20-17 at halftime after Ferguson stuffed a shot by Obermeier, then the Crusaders reeled off six quick points at the start of the third quarter.
Centralia had turnovers on four of its first five possessions in the second half.
“You try to pressure and we got in great position to get steals sometimes,” Bennett said. “The ball’s just hanging up in the air 50-50, except the reality is it’s 90-10. Our guys did some things well. For us to beat them, there’s just so much more pressure on our guys to do things exactly right.”