Despite returning just one starter, Effingham gave Belleville Althoff Catholic all it could handle for three quarters.
Leighton Lark, the Flaming Hearts' one returning starter, drilled a three with a minute and a half left to cut the Crusader lead to 40-35 in the third.
But in the blink of an eye, Althoff ran away with the game with a 14-0 run and downed Effingham 64-45.
The loss drops Effingham to 0-1 and 0-1 in pool play at the St. Anthony Turkey Tournament.
Effingham coach Ron Reed said the game was tighter than a 19-point loss would indicate.
"I'm not disappointed," he said. "Of course, we'd like to have had better results.
"When people look at the score, they won't realize that outside of about a minute, it was a well-contested ball game."
And for the first half, he was certainly right. Effingham stuck right with the Crusaders, trailing 15-14 after one as Althoff freshman Jordan Goodwin got going for the Crusaders, scoring five points including a dunk.
The Crusaders pushed their lead out to as many as seven late in the third, but some crafty baskets by Lark, Isaac Foreman and Kevin Daugherty helped Effingham bank an 8-2 run to make it 27-26 Althoff at the half.
Still, the Hearts struggled with turnovers and boxing out, problems that would rear their head as the game continued along.
"It's one of those things," Reed said. "I know in the first half, we had given up eight or nine offensive rebounds. It's something we have to keep working on, all five guys have to step in and box out."
Effingham came out and fell behind by eight early, but Lark's three with 1:31 left pushed the deficit back to five.
Brendon Gooch hit an Althoff three with three seconds left to push it back to eight, and then he hit another in the middle of the 14-0 run that spanned the first three and a half minutes of the fourth quarter.
From there, it was too late, as both sides emptied out their benches with Althoff up 19.
Goodwin led all scorers with 22 points in his first varsity action for Althoff, while Gooch had 21.
Lark was outstanding for Effingham, leading the way with 21 points.
"He really did a great job, he hit a lot of big shots for us," Reed said. "He kept us in the ball game, especially in the first half and even in the third quarter.
"We need some other guys to step up and help him out, and hopefully we'll get that."
Daugherty had seven points off the bench and Foreman added six of his own.
The Flaming Hearts are back it Wednesday night, when they face Apollo Conference rival Charleston (0-1) at 6:30 p.m.
Althoff Catholic 15 12 16 21 64
Effingham 14 12 9 11 45
Althoff: Gooch (21 points); Goodwin (22 points); Mertens (2 points); Renner (11 points); Young (8 points)
Effingham: Robinson (2 points); P. Knight (4 points); Wohltman (2 points); Lark (21 points); Daugherty (7 points); Foreman (6 points); Zerrusen (3 points)