Tuesday night’s season openers were about more than basketball at Columbus Christian.
First, at halftime of the girls game, the Crusaders’ ICSAA regional champion boys soccer team was honored. Then at halftime of the boys game, the ICSAA regional champion and the National Association of Christian Athletes Division III national champions were recognized.
But the loudest cheer of the night was reserved for when the Columbus Christian boys reached 44 points. At that point, the crowd roared and held up four fingers on each hand in support of No. 44 Levi Sallee, a junior who recently returned to school and was on the bench for the first time since being critically injured in a Sept. 3 car accident.
The Crusaders gave their fans an exciting finish. Blake Barker came up with a steal and 12-footer to tie the game against Soutside Christian with 11 seconds remaining.
Then after another Southside turnover against Columbus Christian’s press. Lain Isley scored on putback with 1.8 seconds left to give the Crusaders a 59-57 win.
Logan Roth led Columbus Christian with 20 points. Lain Isley added 16, and Kyle Marsh had 12.
“We were trying to find the right group of guys,” Roth said. “We had some new guys, and they were pretty steady.”
Menawhile, the Columbus Christian girls fell to Southside 48-20. The Crusaders shot only 14.3 percent (6 of 42) from the field.
Columbus Christian was outscored only 16-13 in the second half after falling behind 32-7 at halftime.
“The girls had a lot of nervous jitters at the beginning,” said Tom Planalp, who was making his head coaching debut. “The first and second quarters, you saw a lot of jitters, but come the third and fourth, we switched to man(-to-man) defense, and that helped us get some aggression out and helped turn the ball over.”
Grace Lorimor led the Crusaders with seven points and eight rebounds. Lauren Barker added six points, Hannah Lorimor had five points and Madi Ochs contributed two points and seven rebounds.