Althoff's boys basketball team has evolved into more than just a three-headed Class 3A monster.
The majority of the Crusaders’ South Seven Conference-leading 71.6 points per game come from the trio of sophomore Jordan Goodwin (20.2 points per game), junior Brendon Gooch (13.5), and sophomore Tarkus Ferguson (13.4).
But throw in sophomore Marvin Bateman (8.7), sophomore C.J. Coldon (8.0), and junior Keenan Young (6.3), and additional match-up problems are created for opposing defenses.
Civic Memorial, 19-11, will take its shot at stopping the rolling Crusaders in the semifinals of the Carbondale 3A Sectional Wednesday at 7 p.m. The winner will advance to the championship game Friday against the winner tonight's semifinal between Carbondale and Mount Vernon.
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
The Crusaders, 28-3, haven't lost since Jan. 9, when they dropped a South Seven Conference showdown at Centralia, 63-53. Their only other losses was to 4A sectional qualifier Collinsville, and St. Joseph High School of Westchester, Ill.
Althoff coach Greg Leib says his young team has matured beyond its focus individual statisitcs and has evolved into a “cohesive unit” that makes the right passes, looks for the best shots, and plays effective defense.
"Marvin Bateman has been a leading scorer for us a few times and C.J. Colden has been right there as well," said Leib. "The biggest things for us is that none of the guys really look at that. They focus on the main part of the scoreboard and making sure we come out on top, as opposed to looking at the sides of the scoreboard to see how many points they have individually.
"They've become a very cohesive unit and are playing very well as a team right now."
Gooch leads the Crusaders with 5.8 rebounds per game and Goodwin averages 5.5. Goodwin and Ferguson also average nearly two steals per game.
While they lead the South Seven Conference in offense, the Crusaders also have surrendered a conference-high 54.8 points per game. Some of those points likely are late scores which have come after Althoff has built a prohibitive lead. The Crusaders secured their 28 wins by an average margin of 18.6 points.
On the balance, Leib is happy with his team's effort on defense.
"We knew coming into the season that anytime you have young guys, defense can be a concern," he said. "It's not that they don't want to play defense, it's just about getting them and keeping them in the right position.
"They guys can be really aggressive, which can be a good thing. But being aggressive can work against you, too, if the other team catches you out of position. I actually think our defense has gotten progressively better through the season."
Civic Memorial won its first regional championship in 22 years by defeating Jerseyville, 53-45, on its own home court last Friday. The Eagles had the best overall record in the Mississippi Valley Conference, but with a 5-5 league record, finished second to Highland.
Senior big man Jakob Lowrance led the charge, as usual, with a career best 27 points in the regional championship game. He was integral in the Eagles' semifinal win over Highland, too, pulling down 12 rebounds and blocking three shots to go with his game-high 19 points.
For the season, Lowrance averages a double-double at 19.6 points and 10 rebounds per game, both of which rank fourth in the metro east. He also has 52 blocked shots.
Lowrance is more than just a wide body, however. Even at 6-foot-8 and 265 pounds, he has a deft touch from all the way out to three-point range, where he leads CM with a 34.4 field goal percentage in 90 attempts. He also is a 75-percent free throw shooter.
"He looks like an old-school Creighton player," Leib said. "He's a big presence inside at 6-8 and he can shoot from the outside. He creates all kind of match-up problems for just about anybody. We have to be aware of where he is and make sure the shots he gets are not easy."
Lowrance is not Civic Memorial's only weapon, though it might have looked that way for stretches during the season.
Freshman JaQuan Adams has emerged as a scoring weapon and as someone who can draw double teams away from Lowrance.
"When he's knocking the 15-footer down and getting to the basket, that's another guy that their team has to defend," Carey said. "Since he game into the lineup around the Christmas tournament, when he started to start, it's really helped Jakob out a lot. They still pack it in on Jakob — there's no doubt everybody is trying to stop him — but we have another option that JaQuan gives us."
The Crusaders have taken notice of the CM freshman too.
"He's a nice player and will be a good one for them over the next few years," Leib said of Adams. "He's headsy and plays with a lot of poise. There are no freshmen left at this point in the season. They've all played hard games to get to this point and they're veterans now."
Point guard Adam Hill runs the offense and averages 4.23 assists per game to go with a team-high 46 steals. He also is second on the team with 90 rebounds.