Boys Basketball

Althoff makes history by advancing to state

Althoff head coach Greg Leib was thinking history even before the season started.

His Crusaders made some by defeating Mahomet-Seymour 79-49 in the Springfield Class 3A Super-Sectional Tuesday night.

The win advances Althoff (28-3) to its first-ever IHSA Boys State Basketball Final Four.

"We talked over the summer and we felt like with what we had — if they committed to guarding and sharing the ball — we'd have a really good chance of getting there," Leib said. "The guys bought in and committed to a team concept where the only statistics that matter is the one on the scoreboard. This is a really unselfish group."

The Crusaders will meet Chicago-Morgan Park — a 64-53 winner of Hillcrest in the Joliet Super-Sectional — in the state semifinals at the Peoria Civic Center 12:15 Friday.

Mahomet-Seymour recovered from a fast Althoff start to take a 28-26 lead late in the first half. Junior Keenen Young saved the last shot before the buzzer to drain a three-point basket that put the Crusaders back on top.

By the time eight more minutes ticked off the game clock, the Crusaders had built a 25-point lead.

After shooting just 39.4 percent from the field, Althoff went white hot from three-point range. It hit six in the third quarter alone and eight of 10 in the second half.

From near the four-minute mark of the third quarter to the halfway point of the fourth, the Crusaders built a 26-2 run that made the game's outcome academic.

"The defense led to our offense," Leib said. "Without the defense, we're just trading baskets. If you shoot like we did in the third quarter, you're going to be up, especially when we defend like that."

Marvin Bateman stepped off the bench to land three of the Crusaders' third-quarter 3s. Brendon Gooch, who led Althoff with 18 points, also scored eight during the rally.

"We took a break in the second quarter, but Coach Leib told us to share the ball more and get in transition," Gooch said. "We came out and executed."

Leib also changed up the Crusaders' defense to stop Mahomet-Seymour senior forward Christian Romine, a University of Texas-El Paso recruit.

Romine scored six straight points in the second quarter, including a big-time slam dunk, that put the Bulldogs within two of the lead.

Keeping him off the basket was Crusades' top priority of the second half. Leib credited Gooch for getting the job done.

"Brendon really guarded the big kid well in the second half," Leib said. "He did a good job keeping him off the spot where he wanted to be. He still made some tough shots but he really had to earn them."

With the rest of the Bulldogs shooting just 28.6 percent from the field as Althoff rallied in the second half, there was little chance of Mahomet-Seymour getting back into the game.

"Gooch did a great job on Christian, pushing him away from the basket," said Mahomet-Seymour coach Chad Benedict. "They bunched up the middle on him and we didn't make any shots to spread them out. They took advantage of it."

Joining Gooch in double figures for Althoff were Tarkus Ferguson with 14 and sophomore Jordan Goodwin, who had 12 points to go with a game-high nine rebounds. Bateman's nine points off 3s were key to the Althoff's second-half surge.

Rettig added 13 points for Mahomet-Seymour. No other player on the Bulldogs' roster scored more than four points in the game. Their season ends at 22-11.

"We lost our composure, to be honest," said Benedict. "Tonight's game is not representative of the kind of season we had and that's disappointing. But we've got to wake up tomorrow and realize what we were able to achieve. This group is special."