Lisch, Althoff advance
Crusaders overcome hot shooting Terriers, 81-77 in sectional semifinal

SALEM - If someone had told Carbondale coach Jim Miller before his Tuesday night semifinal against Belleville Althoff that his team would shoot 68 percent from the field for the game, shoot 50 percent from behind 3-point line and hit 100 percent of their free throws against the Crusaders, he would be planning for another trip to Salem Friday night.

All three of those scenarios played out at B.E. Gum Gymnasium Tuesday for the Terriers. They shot a sparkling 30-of-44 shots from the field, including 11-of-22 from behind the arc.

The also canned all six of their charities.

These numbers should have added up to a win and advancement for the Terriers.

However not figured into this equation was the performance of Althoff super sophomore Kevin Lisch.

This 6-1 'do-everything' guard tallied a career high 37 points, including 19 in the fourth quarter, as the Crusaders cruised into the Class AA 'Round of 32' with a 81-77 win.

"We just didn't handle him (Lisch) at all tonight," said a somber Miller after he saw his teams season come to an end at 24-6. "We needed to stop him more but we just didn't get the job done."

Among Lisch's accomplishments was being a perfect 12-for-12 from the foul line, with eight of those coming in the fourth quarter.

"He scored a lot of points tonight, but I kind of compare his mentality to that of a Mickey Mantle, he is a total team player." said Althoff coach Greg Lieb, whose team heads to the semifinals Friday night against the winner of Wednesday night's Belleville West/East St. Louis contest.

Although Lisch's heroics helped the Crusaders move on, it was the Terriers who were the ones who started out on fire in the first quarter.

After a sluggish early start by both teams, Carbondale got cooking with 4:28 left in the quarter when 6-3 senior Maurice Gibbs hit his first shot of the game, a soft 15-foot jumper that evened the score at 4-all.

This triggered a 12-2 run, the best of the night for the South Seven Conference champs.

Gibbs pocketed a 3-ball on his next trip which was followed by a couple of free throws by Justin Dentman to make it 9-4 with 3:35 left.

Lisch popped home his first points of the night a few moments later.
However Carbondale Phillip O'Koro nailed a 3-pointer, which was followed by another Gibbs basket.

His baseline 10-footer made it 14-6 Terriers and forced Lieb to use his first timeout.

This stoppage got the Althoff troops lined out as they scored the games next eight points to tie the score.

Lisch canned a 3-pointer, Matt Fairbairn hit on a move in the lane, which was followed by a Keonnon Harrington bucket.

Fairbairn added a pair of free throws to tie the score at 14 with :55.5 to go in the first quarter.

The two squads traded baskets before Dentman hit a fade-away 3-pointer just before the horn, which finished the quarter at 19-16 Terriers.

"Our offense that we get feeds off of what we do on the defensive end of the court." added Lieb, who grew up in Flora, just 25 miles to the east of Salem. "Each run we made started with a big defensive effort."

Six-six Althoff senior Erik Huber got his inside game in gear in the second quarter, thanks in part to Lisch and his interior passing skills.

Huber scored the Crusaders first three baskets in the quarter.

His third hoop of the run, on a nice pass from Lisch, cut the Terriers advantage to 23-22 with 5:07 left.
Then Fairbairn struck again, this time from 3-point land, to give the lead back to Althoff.

A steal and a fast-break lay up by junior Kenny Nance got Miller to use a timeout with Carbondale now down 27-23.

Two more Gibbs baskets and another 3-pointer by O'Koro got the Terrier nose in front again at 30-29.

But baskets by Huber and Nance, and a 3-bomb by Fairbairn, took the Crusaders to the locker room with a 36-32 lead.

The Terriers committed five of their 16 turnovers in the second quarter and Althoff scored points on three of those miscues.

Carbondale's Brian Flood stepped in off the bench for coach Miller, and immediately scored two tip-ins in the early part of the third quarter.

His second one, off his own miss, got his team to within 39-38.

Then Lisch, Fairbairn and JaRon Dent all three hit shots to push the Althoff lead to 45-38.

Flood totaled 10 of the Terriers' 17 third quarter points, including a basket right before the horn to cut the Althoff lead to 54-49 heading into the final period.

Carbondale quickly forged a tie with the Crusaders just momments into the final stanza.

Anthony Cawthon, the 6-7 senior center, scored on a spinning shot in the lane.

However on the next Carbondale possession Cawthon, who had spent most of the game on the bench with foul trouble, picked up his fourth foul and went back to the pine with 7:17 remaining. His totals (six points, three rebounds) reflected his lack of minutes on the floor.

"He (Cawthon) was in foul trouble the last time we played Althoff." said Miller. "I am not sure on how many minutes he played tonight but it could not have been many."

After a Crusader miss, Cameron Flowers hit a long-distance 3-pointer to make it 54-all.

But Althoff responded by getting the ball to Lisch, who showed why he is regarded as one of the top players in the metro-east.

After a Huber basket, Lisch put in the next nine points for Althoff. His 'trifecta' at the 4:46 mark had the Crusaders in command at 61-56.

Carbondale got as close as three points twice in the final 6:04.

After a Gibbs 3-point shot with 2:20 to go, on a play in which Cawthon was charged with his fifth personal foul, Althoff turned the ball over on a inbound pass violation.

Dentman took a quick pass inbounds from Gibbs and his spinning shot cut the margin down to 69-66.
Lisch answered the basket with two clutch free throws.

Gibbs hit a shot from right on the 3-point line that counted as a two-pointer to make it 71-68 Crusaders.

However Althoff cashed in their free throws with Lisch (2) and Huber (4) making all six of the final throws.

Carbondale managed to hit three, 3-pointers in the final minute. But Gibbs' last one just cut the final margin to five as time ran out on the Terriers' fine season.

"This is a special group. No question about it." added Miller, speaking of his squad's performance this season. "The effort was there tonight, but this is just not the result we wanted."

Althoff was lead by Lisch's 37 and Huber 23 as they avenged two regular season defeats at the hands of the Terriers. Fairbairn was the only other Crusader in double-figures with 11.

Carbondale got 22 and 21 points respectively from Dentman and Gibbs while Flowers added 10.

TOP RIGHT - Althoff's Matt Fairbairn lays in a shot in the second half of the Crusaders 81-77 win over Carbondale at the Salem Class AA Sectional semi-final. (Jack Bullock Photo)

BOTTOM LEFT - Carbondale's Maurice Gibbs makes a move on Althoff's Kevin Lisch in the first quarter. (Jack Bullock Photo)