If Althoff High sophomore Jordan Goodwin wasn’t on the Division I recruiting map in Illinois before Friday, his performance at the Class 3A state tournament likely silenced any doubters.
With University of Illinois assistant Paris Parham seated near the court, the 6-foot-3 star dropped 18 points, 14 rebounds and a season-high nine assists on two-time defending state champ Chicago Morgan Park in an 82-74 semifinal victory. Goodwin came just an assist away from collecting a rare triple-double.
“If he ain’t on the map yet, I don’t know what it takes,” Althoff coach Greg Leib said. “He’s old-school in his approach. He just wants to come after you and get after it.”
Parham was there watching Morgan Park’s Marcus LoVett spontaneously combust for a Class 3A state-record 45 points, but may have noticed Goodwin, too.
Right now what Goodwin and the Crusaders are after is a state title. This is their first trip to state, so they’d like to make it a successful one.
“My team wanted it bad,” Goodwin said. “Our fans were into it, we were into it. We wanted to come out and just win by any means.”
Goodwin was a first-team all-state selection by The Associated Press on Thursday, then was named to the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association’s first team on Friday as well.
Goodwin said some may have overlooked Althoff since the majority of the regulars are sophomores and juniors.
“We already knew coming in that we were the underdogs,” he said. “Everybody thought we were supposed to lose to Cahokia in the regionals, but we just stayed together and worked hard. Now we have to do the big thing.”
Teammate Tarkus Ferguson enjoys watching the way Goodwin attacks the basket. Goodwin threw down a slam right over LoVett in the second quarter.
“He’s a bull, man,” Ferguson said. “His game offensively is to get rebounds and score as soon as he gets the ball. That’s what he does and he’s very good at it.”
Known more for his scoring and rebounds, Goodwin’s passing is sometimes overlooked.
“Jordan gets a lot of attention, but from that he does a very good job of finding people and getting them in positions where they can score,” Leib said. “He’s as good as anybody we’ve had at that since Kevin Lisch probably.”
Goodwin set up several open 3-pointers for teammates and also lobbed a perfect alley-oop pass to Ferguson for a thunderous slam dunk.
“That was probably our first successful alley-oop of the season,” Leib said. “It works in practice but when we get in the games we’ve knocked out three cheerleaders and a couple band members. You’ve got to pay attention if you sit on the end.”
Set for a sequel
If the state championship game between Althoff and Westchester St. Joseph’s comes anywhere near the emotion and drama of their first meeting on Feb. 7 at the Bank of O’Fallon Shootout, look out.
St. Joseph won that one 97-95 in double-overtime on a turnaround jumper by Joffery Brown. The Chargers, coached by Hall of Famer Gene Pingatore, won despite trailing Althoff by 13 in the fourth quarter and seven in the first overtime.
The emotional defeat was the last one suffered by Althoff, which has won nine straight since then.
“That game helped us understand what we needed to do to get ourselves in the situation we are right now,” Leib said. “If we hadn’t rectified that, I don’t think we’d be sitting here right now.”
The 78-year-old Pingatore is in his 45th season and owns an incredible 961 wins. He’s been bringing St. Joe’s teams to the state tournament since 1978, but in 11 trips has only one state title (1999 Class AA).
“I’m like a kid with Coach Pingatore,” Leib said. “I’m a student of the game in the state of Illinois and growing up as a kid watching Coach Ping on TV with his teams in the ’70s and ’80s was great.”
St. Joesph’s senior guard Jordan Ash, a Northwestern recruit, felt the previous game brought out the best in both powerhouse teams. Nebraska recruit Glynn Watson went off that night, scoring 23 of his 38 points after the third quarter.
Goodwin topped Althoff with 33 points in the loss.
“They showed us a lot. That was probably the most wild game we’ve ever played at (St.) Joe’s,” Ash said Friday. “We were down 13 with six minutes left... we just kept fighting and then we ended up coming out with the win. It showed us a lot of things we had to work on. They spread us out and got to the basket a lot that gamee and it affected us a lot. I think we’ve got a lot better since that game.”
What does Ash think about the matchup with Althoff?
“They’re a very aggressive team,” Ash said. “Ferguson can shoot, Gooch can shoot, they’ve got another guy. ...They’ve got shooters all over the floor. Then they’ve got Goodwin, they go through him for everything. They showed us they don’t care about who you are or what your name is, they’re going to play.
“They’re very well coached and they just showed us that we’re going to have to play. They’re going to make us earn this championship and we’re going to make them earn it.”
The Chargers have plenty of talent besides Ash (14.8 points per game) and Watson (15 ppg). There’s also 6-foot-11 Division I center recruit Nick Rakocevic (13.4 ppg) and Brown (10.1 ppg).
Leib wasn’t shy about describing the importance of the pain caused by the previous St. Joesph’s loss.
“That really hurt,” he said. “It hurt the guys, hurt us, forced us to take a serious recollection of who we were at that point in time. When you have an opportunity to get a final four team like that ... we let it slip away.”
IBCA All-State Teams
Goodwin was the lone first-team all-stater on the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association’s combined Class 3A-4A All-State Teams released Friday.
O’Fallon’s Donovan Franklin made third-team all-state while Althoff juniors Tarkus Ferguson and Brendon Gooch each were fourth-team all-state.
Earning special mention all-state were Collinsville’s Emondre Rickman, Jeremiah Timon and Tyrone Riley from East St. Louis and Alton’s Darrius Edwards and Bryan Hudson. On the honorable mention all-state squad were Jakob Lowrance (Civic Memorial), Kenny Berry (Granite City) and Alton’s Carlos Anderson.