CARBONDALE – Jakob Lowrance said the Civic Memorial Eagles gave it their best shot Wednesday in the Class 3A Carbondale Sectional.
In the end, that mattered much to them.
Powerful Belleville Althoff eliminated CM, 79-54, in a sectional semifinal boys’ basketball game at Carbondale. While 29-3 Althoff advanced to the 7 p.m. championship game Friday against 25-5 Carbondale, the Eagles finished their season at 19-12.
“We played our hardest against a very good team,” said Lowrance, a 6-foot-8 senior playing his final high school game. “It felt good to play in a sectional because we knew we had it in us to win a regional.”
The Eagles snared a regional championship last Friday against the Jersey Panthers at Havens Gym, but they found the sectional sledding tougher.
“Althoff is a very good team and I hope that they go on and win the state title,” CM coach Doug Carey said. “They have two All-State players and maybe three Division I players, but I thought we played well against them in the first half.
“Give credit to our kids. I’m proud of the way we competed and we acted like we could win the game.”
The Crusaders led 36-26 at half, then went on a 10-2 spurt to start the third quarter. CM never recovered from that quick burst, fueled by the Crusaders’ pressure defense. Althoff once led by 30 points.
Yet the Eagles impressed the Crusaders. Take it from Althoff coach Greg Leib.
“Doug Carey is a scrappy individual and his teams play that way,” Leib said. “Their big kid (Lowrance) was effective against us on the block.”
Lowrance, fourth on the CM’s career scoring list and the school’s top rebounder, made 8 of 17 shots. Teammate Jaquan Adams, just a freshman, pitched in 15 points, 10 the first half.
“I think our pressure made a difference,” Leib said, pointing to the Eagles’ 17 turnovers, including six in the third quarter. “We also got a lot of points from our bench and got better looks at the basket in the second half. When you shoot well, it makes up for a multitude of mistakes.”
Sophomore starter Jordan Goodwin netted 19 points to pace the Crusaders, who had four players score in double figures. Reserve Marvin Bateman, a 6-4 sophomore, contributed 17 points, 14 in the second half. He connected on a trio of treys as Althoff sank eight 3-pointers. Keenen Young, a 6-1 junior guard and another reserve, pitched in 11 points. Overall, Althoff made 30 of 58 shots.
“They hit us hard at the start of the third quarter and we made some mistakes,” Lowrance said. “But I’m proud of how we were able to turn the program around the last couple of years.”
CM won eight games in 2010-11, then 14 the next season and 18 last year. The Eagles’ regional title this season was their first one in 22 years.
“I’m proud of what we accomplished and we took a step forward,” Carey said. “We have a good group of players coming up and hopefully, we will expect to be here next year."
Lowrance, heading to NCAA Division II Central Missouri State in Warrensburg, won’t be easy to replace.
“He has been a cornerstone of the program and Jakob got better every year because he worked at it,” Carey said. “He had an unbelievable career and our program turned around because of him.”
Lowrance said, “I was most proud (individually) of getting rebounds – more than scoring points. You have to rebound well to win games.”
He did both, even though Lowrance was hobbled by a sore right knee. “I hurt it and tore my meniscus at the start of the season," he said. "I’m going to need surgery on it before I play college ball.”
Althoff, meanwhile, braces for a third game with Carbondale, this time for the sectional title. The Crusaders, champions of the South Seven Conference, have beaten the Terriers twice in league play.
“It’s going to be a good challenge for us,” Leib said. “We’ll see what we can do.”
CLASS 3A CARBONDALE SECTIONAL
BELLEVILLE ALTHOFF 79, CM 54
CM 12 14 11 17 – 54
Althoff 23 13 24 19—79
CM (19-12) – Jakob Lowrance 18, Adam Hill 1, Zack Lehnen 7, Brett Lane 5, Jaquan Adams 15, Brandon Hampton 6, Geoff Withers 2. 2FG-16 3FG-4 FT-10 PF-13
Althoff (29-3) – Tarkus Ferguson 12, Brendon Gooch 7, Rick Edwards 2, Jordan Goodwin 19, Keenen Young 11, C.J. Coldon 8, Marvin Bateman 17, Bryson Strong 3. 2FG-22 3FG-8 FT-11 PF-17