TROY — The Civic Memorial Eagles will not be celebrating another regional championship this year.
The Eagles’ quest for their second straight regional crown came up two wins short as they lost to the Althoff Crusaders 73-48 in the Class 3A Triad Regional semifinals on Tuesday.
“It didn’t come to the end the way we wanted it to,” Civic Memorial senior Brett Lane said. “It’s sad that I won’t be able to play basketball again for the team. At least we lost to a respectable team and a good team, so that didn’t hurt that bad.”
Still, CM turned in another winning season. The Eagles finished 18-12 after losing four players to graduation, including Jakob Lowrance, who is now playing at the University of Central Missouri.
“This group played so hard every day in practice,” CM head coach Doug Carey said. “They brought it every single day in practice. I told them in there, when you can do that, a coach is never really upset with you. They’re really a pleasure to coach this year because they work so hard every day and they gave everything they had.”
The Crusaders improved to 26-2 with the win over the Eagles and will play either Highland or Jersey in the regional championship game on Friday. Althoff is looking to qualify for the state tournament for the second year in a row. Last year, the Belleville school placed second in 3A.
“We think we can be right back at it this year,” Althoff senior Brendon Gooch said. “We know we have some games to win.”
The Crusaders eliminated CM in the postseason for the second year in a row. Last year, Althoff beat the Eagles 79-54 in the Class 3A Carbondale Sectional semifinals.
The Crusaders never trailed in Tuesday’s game. They stormed to a 19-9 lead after the first quarter and led 38-26 at halftime.
“They’re fast,” Lane said. “They can shoot and they’re pretty big. We don’t really play competition like that during the season.”
Junior Jordon Goodwin led Althoff with 24 points. Gooch finished with 18 points and senior Tarkus Ferguson had 13.
Lane and two other CM seniors — Adam Hill and Justin Williams — played their final high school basketball game on Tuesday. Lane finished with a team-high 17 points, including 15 in the first half.
“The seniors were fantastic,” Carey said. “They played as hard as they could. They weren’t the most talented group in the area, but they came (to practice) every day. They came in the summer and they got better each year.”
Lane hit a game-winning shot as time expired to lead the Eagles to a 51-49 win over Mascoutah in a first-round game on Monday. He scored 17 points against the Indians.
Last year, the Eagles finished 19-12 and captured their first regional title since 1993 with a 53-45 win over Jersey in the regional championship game in Jerseyville.
Lane said this season, his team had to learn to play without the 6-foot-8 Lowrance, who was the Eagles’ leading scorer at 19.5 points per game.
“This year, we played a different style of ball,” the CM senior said. “We were trying to outrun teams because we weren’t as big as anybody. So it was kind of fun doing something different this year.”
This year, CM got off to a 3-0 start. The Eagles were 10-3 after beating Freeburg in the Columbia Tournament on Dec. 30. They finished third in the Mississippi Valley Conference standings at 6-4.
“It was decent,” Lane said. “I think we could have won more games had we taken care of the ball better. We didn’t pull some games out. We were leading the whole time. We just didn’t close them very well. But 18-12 is a pretty solid season for us.”
Junior David Lane, who scored 13 points against Althoff, was the Eagles’ top scorer at 10.6 points per game. Sophomore JaQuan Adams averaged 10 points per contest.
Carey said he’s optimistic that his team will finish with another winning season next winter.
“We’ll see what the summer brings and how they want to work and if they work hard, they’ll get what they deserve,” he said.