Even with his team hanging around at the half, down by just 10 points to the state’s No. 4-ranked team, Civic Memorial coach Doug Carey could almost hear the pressure building like the ticking of a time bomb.
Less than three minutes into the third quarter, the Althoff Crusaders had more than doubled their lead and cruised to a 79-54 win in the semifinals of the Class 3A Carbondale Boys Basketball Sectional.
“They are so athletic, they just wore us down,” Carey said. “They shot so well in the second half it was like we weren’t even playing defense. We just felt like it was a matter of time before their length and athleticism got to us.”
Four players reached double figures for Althoff, including sophomore Marvin Bateman and junior Keenen Young who came off the bench to score 17 and 11 points respectively.
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The win brings Althoff (27-3) to within a victory of just the third super-sectional appearance in school history. The Crusaders will be back in Carbondale on Friday to face their South Seven Conference rival for the championship on its home floor.
“We had a lot of kids that contributed — Keenen looked good, Marvin came off the bench and gave us 17,” said Althoff coach Greg Leib. “Edwyn Brown just gives us great energy off the bench. He comes in and looks like he’s working at the Ritz Carleton for tips.
“It was just really a good team effort.”
Leib credited Civic Memorial with taking leading-scorer Jordan Goodwin “out of the equation,” even though the sophomore scored 17 points. Tarkus Ferguson was the other Crusader to reach double figures by pouring in 12 points, including a pair of first-half 3-point baskets.
The Crusaders took an early 18-6 lead with the help of 3-pointers from Ferguson and Brendon Gooch, and a slam dunk off a steal by Goodwin.
But Althoff turned the ball over several times attempting to pass inside the paint to Goodwin. JaQuan Adams, with 10 first-half points, and Jakob Lowrance, with nine, kept Civic Memorial in the game. Althoff led at halftime 36-26.
Young opened the second half with a 3 to set off a 13-4 run that put the Crusaders in command. He finished another three-point play from the foul line while Goodwin and Ferguson added baskets during the run.
Bateman’s tip in on a missed Ferguson jumper put Althoff up 54-31 with five minutes left in the third quarter. The 6-foot-4 Bateman scored 14 of his 17 points in the second half.
“The starting five and four players off the bench can score,” said Young. “It creates a lot of problems (for opponents) because we’re all unselfish and look to make the passes that will give us the best shot. We’re so used to playing with each other — we all play AAU together — it’s just natural to us now.”
Both teams put their seniors on the floor midway through the fourth quarter after Goodwin’s layup put the Crusaders ahead by 25.
“Second half we extended our zone a little bit, got some run-off baskets and picked up the tempo a little bit,” said Leib. “That worked to our advantage. And the guys were very unselfish. They made some good passes and gave us good looks.”
Civic Memorial (19-12) got oustanding play from freshman JaQuan Adams, who scored 15 points, and senior center Jakob Lowrance, who netted a game-high 18.
Lowrance wraps up his career as the Eagles’ all-time leader in rebounds and fourth all-time leading scorer.
“He just got better year after year,” Carey said. “I’m proud of the way he’s worked and the player he’s become.”
Also scoring for Althoff were Brendon Gooch with nine, C.J. Coldon with eight,Bryson Strong with three and Rick Edwards with two.
Civic Memorial also got seven points from Zack Lehnen, six from Brandon Hampton, five from Brett Lane, two from Geoff Withers and one from Adam Hill.