By PAUL HINES
Mt. Vernon held Althoff scoreless for most of the opening quarter, but the Crusaders exploded in the fourth quarter to seize a 44-36 win Friday night.
The Rams took a 26-19 lead into the final quarter before Althoff’s offense erupted for 25 points in the final eight minutes. Althoff managed to tie the game at 30 with 3:30 left after a layup from Keenen Young. The freshman gave his team the lead seconds later after a basket and foul.
“You can’t couple bad offense, turning it over with getting out of what you do good defensively,” Mt. Vernon coach Scott Gamber said. “I thought that was a big turning point there when we could not get a stop.”
From there, the Rams tried to play catch up but never gained control of the lead again. Althoff’s advantage grew to 38-32 with 1:11 left. Kevin Renner led the Althoff offense and 12 of his game high 14 points came in the fourth.
After a strong start to the game, the Rams shooting fell flat in the second half. Mt. Vernon hit just one of 14 shots from the field in the final two quarters. The Rams opened the game with a 10-0 run in the opening six and half minutes of action. Althoff’s only score of the quarter came with 1:05 left on a bucket from Brendon Gooch.
“It was a slower pace. I thought we were getting good looks,” Gamber said.
“But again they weren’t really pressuring us yet. They were letting us run our stuff pretty well. It was a great start, but it could have been a lot better.”
The Rams maintained their double-digit lead through the second quarter and took a 23-13 edge into halftime. Trevor Flota hit a pair of 3-pointers in the period to help the Rams. Flota led the Rams with 10 points and added five rebounds.
“When they were struggling we had a really great chance to really put them away, and we couldn’t do it,” Gamber said. “We turned it over. We didn’t get good shots. We missed free throws. We had a stretch there were we missed four or five free throws.”
Mt. Vernon is 4-3 overall this season and 1-1 in the South Seven Conference. Althoff improved to 5-2 overall and 2-0 in conference play.