Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

November 21, 2012

Hearts fall to Crusaders

Adam Spencer
Effingham Daily News

EFFINGHAM — The first half of Tuesday's basketball game between the Effingham earts and Althoff Catholic Crusaders proved to be quite the defensive battle.

After a first quarter that saw the Crusaders take a 5-2 lead, the offensive struggles continued for both teams in the second quarter of the second day of the St. Anthony Thanksgiving Tournament, leading to a 19-16 advantage for Althoff at halftime.

Ultimately, the Crusaders would earn an exciting 41-39 victory, with Kevin Renner knocking down two clutch free throws with less than 10 seconds remaining.

Renner's calm, collected free throw shooting was a big reason Althoff Catholic (1-0) emerged with a win. He hit all six of his attempts from the line in the fourth quarter and made 12 of his 14 free throws on the night. He would finish as the game's leading scorer, with 17 total points.

"He really played clutch," Althoff Catholic coach Greg Leib said of Renner. "You want the ball in his hands; he makes good decisions and he can get himself open. He’s just crafty."

Effingham's Alex Carie did his best to prevent his team from losing, knocking down three huge three-pointers in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 39.

But, after Phil Knight fouled Renner and Renner knocked down the shots from the charity stripe, the Hearts didn't have enough time to muster a last-second shot attempt. A long pass to Carie bounced away from him as time expired.

"We switched it up defensively at the end to try to slow it up so that couldn't get a good look at the end of the ballgame," Leib said.

Overall, despite the loss, Effingham coach Ron Reed was pleased with his team's performance in Tuesday's opener.

"I thought, overall, we did pretty well," he said. "We just didn't put the ball in the hole enough."

He added that his team just needs to be more disciplined late in games.

"It was a great first game," he said. "We have to learn not to foul though. They did a great job hitting free throws down the stretch."

Carie led the Hearts with 12 points on the night. Clark Williamson scored eight points in the second quarter and finished with nine total. Marcus Robinson and Leighton Lark added four points apiece for Effingham (0-1).

Grant Strieker and Brendon Gooch each had eight points for Althoff Catholic to help Renner and the Crusaders.

Next up for the Hearts is Apollo Conference rival Charleston. The game starts at 6:30 tonight.

The Trojans are coming off a 92-54 blowout win over St. Anthony on Monday night, during which they employed an exciting, fast-paced offensive scheme.

Reed said the Hearts would need to try to control the tempo of the game tonight.

"We need to try to stay in front of them," he said. "They can put the ball on the floor well and they can shoot it. Hopefully we can slow them down a little bit."

Belleville Althoff will take on St. Anthony tonight. That game is scheduled to start at 8 p.m.