Westchester St. Joseph beats Belleville Althoff for 3A title
PEORIA, Ill. (AP) — All-state guard Glynn Watson scored 19 points, Nick Rakovecic added 18 points and 11 rebounds and Joffery Brown chipped in 15 points as Westchester St. Joseph withstood a Belleville Althoff second-half rally to win the IHSA Class 3A boys basketball title, 67-63, Saturday.
The Chargers (29-6) led by 11 two minutes into the second half but the Crusaders (28-4) slowly chipped away and trailed by three with just more than two minutes left in the game. But St. Joseph forced steals on consecutive possessions, turning both into buckets to extend the lead back to seven.
“We had to fix our mistakes, our mental mistakes,” St. Joseph’s Jordan Ash said. “We adjusted to what was going on and we recovered.”
Brown forced the first turnover before laying it in to make it a five-point lead. Then, seconds later, Ash made a steal and fed Watson for another bucket. Althoff never got closer than the final score after.
“Falling behind like we did, our margin of error was much smaller and you saw that with a couple of possessions,” Althoff coach Greg Leib said. “We won the second half, but what do you get for that, a side of fries?”
Leib, while satisfied with the effort, said his young team that features no seniors, wasn’t content with second.
“Our kids are as disappointed as anyone to lose this game. You come here wanting to win the whole thing,” Leib said.
St. Joseph coach Gene Pingatore made his fifth trip to the state finals in his 46th year. Each seems like the first, he said.
“You know, just to get down here is so special,” Pingatore said. “It’s so hard just to get to Peoria and then to win it again is really special.”
St. Joseph beat Althoff in a shootout in February, 97-95, and when the Crusaders made their second-half run, Pingatore thought the title game might end similarly.
“I thought, ‘Oh crap, it’s going to be one of those games,’” the 78-year-old coach said. “Fortunately, we were able to hang on.”
Althoff’s sophomore all-state guard Jordan Goodwin led all players with 23 points and 12 rebounds. Tarkus Ferguson and C.J. Coldon added 12 points each and Brendan Gooch had 10 for the Crusaders.
Goodwin has a plan for the future.
“We have to get stronger,” Goodwin said. “We got beat up down low. They wanted it more.”