Althoff’s performances against four overmatched opponents in the Collinsville-Prairie Farms Holiday Classic were akin to the Harlem Globetrotters facing the Washington Generals.
The top-seeded Crusaders (11-1) were up to their familiar tricks during the tournament, outscoring foes by an average margin of about 29 points a game in winning the tournament for the second time Wednesday. Dunks and no-look passes were the order of the day.
Fourth-seeded Quincy played Althoff closer than anyone, losing 75-57 in the semifinals Tuesday after falling behind 20-0. Other victims were Urbana (97-56), Granite City (72-46) and Decatur MacArthur (85-55 in the championship game).
“The crowd definitely helped us,” Althoff junior Marvin Bateman said after hitting five 3-pointers and scoring 19 points in the title game. “We’ve been playing together for so long, so it’s just fun for us. We’re all best friends, too. Our chemistry is there.”
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Their chemistry is really good. You can take that over skill and do a lot of things. We’ve got a way to go to be who we want to be and be where we want to be. But this was a good challenge for us, this tournament.
Althoff coach Greg Leib on his Crusaders
Junior Jordan Goodwin won the tournament’s Most Valuable Player award, averaging 21 points and eight rebounds.
“The crowd, when we get a dunk, they do pump us up a little bit,” Goodwin said. “But I think it was our team chemistry and everybody playing unselfishly. It felt like practice out there because that’s the same way Coach (Greg) Leib makes us practice. If you practice hard, you play hard.”
Althoff’s next game is against visiting Marion on Jan. 8. As good as the Crusaders are, they will seek to improve their rebounding, interior defense and free-throw shooting. They shot 67 percent from the line in the tournament and outrebounded teams just 122-112.
The Crusaders shot 55 percent from the field (116-for-213) and outscored teams 106-39 in the first quarter. They ignited a continuous running clock in three games by holding leads of 30 or more points as the fourth quarter began.
“Shooting makes up for a lot of mistakes,” Leib said. “When we come out and shoot like that, we’re difficult to guard because (teams) get extended, and that allows guys like Jordan and Brendon (Gooch) and ‘Tark’ (Tarkus Ferguson) and C.J. (Coldon) to attack the gaps. We played well and hit some shots.”
Leib said his players were determined to bring home the championship after stumbling 64-61 against Collinsville in the semifinals last year when Althoff also was the No. 1 seed.
“That was on us,” Leib said. “We didn’t play well, we took a lot of bad shots, we didn’t guard very well and we didn’t rebound well. They remembered those things, and Jordan does a good job of reminding them. They hold each other to task. Their affinity for one another is probably their greatest attribute, probably more so than their skill.
“Their chemistry is really good. You can take that over skill and do a lot of things. We’ve got a way to go to be who we want to be and be where we want to be. But this was a good challenge for us, this tournament. It doesn’t look like it with the scores, but we saw a lot of different styles of teams and the guys did a good job against that.”
Big lift for Warriors
Granite City (7-5) snapped an extended drought against East St. Louis by defeating the Flyers 55-49 in the seventh-place game Wednesday.
The Warriors had not beaten East Side since a 42-37 decision in 2001 in East St. Louis. Since then, they had lost at least 29 straight games to the Flyers, not including the postseason.
Granite City employed a box-and-one on East St. Louis senior Kenny Roberson and limited Roberson to seven points. Roberson had 60 points in the Flyers’ first three games.
“Torrey Deal was unbelievable on him. He stuck him,” Roustio said. “They run some nice sets against the box-and-one and they’ve got some other kids who can knock down 3s. Fortunately for us, no other player got hot. They might have hit a 3, but they didn’t get on a roll and hit two or three and cause us to have to change (defenses).”
The victory was even sweeter for the Warriors since they were coming off a 66-64 overtime loss to Collinsville late Tuesday. The Kahoks won on senior Tommy Maden’s 25-foot 3-pointer at the buzzer after Deal missed the front end of a one-and-one.
“Their top three scorers were 23-for-33,” Roustio said. “That’s lights-out. Our top three guys were 16-for-40. You’ve got to give Collinsville credit. I’m glad we get to play them again right away. We don’t have to wait. It will be a great battle. We’ll be real hungry.”
Collinsville visits Granite City at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in a Southwestern Conference game.
“There will be a big crowd. They’ve got a good team,” Kahoks coach Darin Lee said. “They played a great game (Wednesday) and I’m really happy for them.”
Belleville East got off to a slow start in its tournament-opening loss to MacArthur, but the Lancers (9-4) rallied with victories over McCluer North, Riverview Gardens and Decatur Eisenhower to nail down the consolation championship.
“Any time you go 3-1 in this tournament, you’ve done something and you can be happy about it,” said East coach Abel Schrader, whose club erased a 57-50 deficit in the final 1:15 of regulation before tripping Eisenhower 75-69 in overtime. “They’re good. They play hard and they pressured us. We just kept fighting and made some plays.”
Since 2005, East has won two championships, two consolation championships, a third place and a fourth place.
Schrader is encouraged about the Lancers now that seniors Javon Pickett, Drew Millas, Jalen Jones and Isaiah King, along with developing junior Rico Sylvester, are all playing at a higher level. Sophomore Malachi Smith also is steadying himself in his first taste of varsity action.
The Lancers will play at Alton on Tuesday, then play host to Collinsville on Jan. 8.
“We’ve got a lot of guys doing good things. We’ve just got to get better,” Schrader said. “We’ve got a big week next week. This builds momentum. We’ll see how we respond in practice. But I think it builds momentum for us and gives us a lot of confidence for when we come back.”
Teams seemed to enjoy the alteration to the schedule in the tournament.
For the first time in the 32-year history of the Classic, all teams played two games on the second day and four games overall.
“With four games, there’s fatigue,” said Lee, who also serves as the Collinsville athletics director. “Legs get tired. That’s a lot of basketball. But I think coaches like to play games. That’s my thing. We guaranteed them four games.”
The schedule change also meant the semifinals were played the evening of the second day. In past years, the semifinals were in the afternoon of the third day.
“For the spectators, I liked getting those semifinals at night,” Lee said. “That’s an advantage. People who were working could still come see the semifinals and the finals.”
Schrader believes the setup allows for a better final day of competition.
“I like the format where you play one, two and one,” he said. “I think it’s a good format. You don’t have to play two games on the last day. It really gives you a true matchup for the championship game and the third-place game because you have a chance to talk to your kids a little bit and a day or so to rest so you’re not playing that second game on tired legs.”
Jobe sets record
Quincy senior Jake Jobe set a tournament record with 10 3-pointers in the Blue Devils’ 57-38 win over Lincoln in the third-place game Wednesday.
Jobe was 10-for-13 from beyond the arc, breaking the former record of nine 3-pointers set by Jordan Nelson of Lincoln in 2010 and Andy Roberts of Decatur Eisenhower in 1997.
Jobe was 11-for-16 from the field and finished with 33 points. The record-breaking 3-pointer came out of the right corner with 1:36 to play, with an assist from senior Mike Dade.
“It kind of felt good starting out 3-for-3, 4-for-4,” said the 6-foot-3 Jobe. “Then after that happened, my point guard (Dade) knew I was hot and my coach (Andy Douglas) was like, ‘Find the hot shooter.’ They just kept falling and it felt really good.”
Jobe also set a Quincy record for most 3-pointers in a game, breaking the former mark of seven made by Kyle Cartmill (1992-93 season) and Zach Forbes (2009-10 season).
After his final 3-pointer, Jobe exited to a warm round of applause.
“It’s surreal right now,” Jobe said. “Zach Forbes, I always looked up to him growing up. I saw his seven 3s in a game. It’s crazy right now, but it will settle in.”
Goodwin, of course, headed the all-tournament team with his magical performances, garnering the Most Valuable Player award.
Teammates Bateman, Ferguson and Coldon joined Goodwin on the team, which also included: Pickett of Belleville East, Jobe of Quincy; Kenny Berry of Granite City; Ronnie Midgett of Collinsville; D’Angelo Hughes of Springfield Southeast; Isaiah Bowers of Lincoln; and Keymonta Johnson of MacArthur.
The tournament also will be Dec. 28-30 in 2016. The dates correspond because of the upcoming leap year. However, the tourney will be played on a Wednesday, Thursday and Friday instead of a Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
Fletcher Gym is expected to undergo an overhaul before the 33rd annual tournament. A new, and bigger, floor will be installed and the old lower bleachers will be replaced.
Other significant changes will be made to the gym, which opened in 1971, including the ability for fans to reach the lower-level seating from the concourse rather than the floor.
Every team except Fort Zumwalt North will return to the tournament. Fort Zumwalt North will be replaced by Edwardsville, meaning there will be five SWC teams in the field.
“It’s going to make for a better field,” Lee said.