With the calendar flipping to March, the madness officially began for Althoff on Tuesday night as the Crusaders kicked off its postseason with a 73-48 win over Civic Memorial in the semifinals of the Class 3A Regional at Triad High School.
Althoff, the top-rated team in the state and recently named a nationally ranked team, won its 14th consecutive game and improved to 26-2 on the season.
So as the Crusaders begin their postseason run, the proverbial target has never been larger.
“The kids have done a great job with the pressure. They are used to it,” said coach Greg Leib. “When you play at Althoff you get that whether you are good, bad or indifferent. Teams come to play against us so it’s something we’re used to.
“But we like that,” Leib added. “We get really good efforts from our opponents and it makes us a better team in the end.”
The Crusaders ended up being 25 points better in the end Tuesday, despite a spirited effort from Civic Memorial (18-12).
The Eagles trailed by only 12 points with three minutes left in the third quarter following back-to-back buckets from JaQuan Adams and Brett Lane.
But Althoff would close the period with a hoop from Tarkus Ferguson and a three-point play by CJ Coldon to make it 54-37 to start the final frame.
Brendan Gooch converted another three-point play to open the fourth quarter to push the lead to 20 points for the Crusaders. And following a free throw from CM’s David Lane, Althoff would score six straight points to run its lead to 63-38.
“They are so hard to guard,” said Eagles’ coach Doug Carey. “They can shoot from 25 feet or they can drive to the basket, and we couldn’t stop any of it. I think our guys did a good job defensively, but it’s such an athletic mismatch.
“Our guys played really, really hard, it’s just that Althoff is really, really good.”
Goodwin led a balanced scoring effort for Althoff with 24 points. Gooch added 19 points as Ferguson chipped in with 13.
Brett Lane ended with 17 points to pace Civic Memorial, as David Lane added 13.
The Crusaders advance Friday night’s regional title game where they will face the winner of Wednesday night’s semifinal matchup between Highland and Jersey.
“We will work tomorrow on what we didn’t do well tonight and then Thursday we will prepare for who we will see on Friday,” Leib said. “It’s just one game at a time. We don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves because no one is just going to let you go from here to there.”