Crusaders split pair at invitational

Columbus Christian had a sluggish practice the day before Tuesday’s invitational, and it showed in the first game against Highland Latin Christian.

Coach Kevin Roth was disappointed in how his team began the game as the Highlanders had kept the lead for the majority of the contest on their way to a 61-57 win.

The Crusaders had trouble stopping Highland Latin Christian’s top scorers, Ben Lange and Eli Young. Lange had a game-high 23 points, hitting 5 of his 6 free throws, while Young finished the game with 17 points.

“We didn’t execute,” Roth said. “I didn’t think our starting unit came out and played with any fire. That’s why most of them set on the bench in the second half.”

Roth decided to go with more of his bench players down the stretch, including Blake Barker, who had nine of his 18 points in the fourth quarter.

Columbus Christian went on a 9-2 run in the fourth to tie the game with two minutes and 11 seconds left. Josh Jones provided some good minutes on the defensive side of the ball, and the Crusaders had a chance to win the game in the final minute. They found themselves down by three with just under eight seconds left but could not pull it out.

“Josh one of the best defenders we’ve got,” Roth said, “He does an excellent job there, and we had Blake in there to hopefully get us some threes to get us back in the game. He’s a good three point shooter. He hit some to get it close, but we couldn’t stop their two guys.”

Junior varsity coach Ryan Crase coached the second game, but Roth said after the early loss that he would switch the starting lineup with players who showed intensity.

Columbus Christian began its game against Christian Academy of Carrollton (Kentucky) with four new players in the starting lineup. Blake Barker’s hot hand from the fourth quarter of the first game carried over to the second, helping the Crusaders to a 83-42 vicotory. He started the game by scoring 16 points in the first quarter, and Logan Roth took over in the second half. Barker had a game-high of 20 points and Logan ended with 18.

“Their effort was a whole lot better this time,” Crase said. “The first game they were looking really flat, but this game I think they had a sour taste in their mouth still. So they were ready to go.”

Columbus Christian had only one player score score more than 10 points against Highland Latin Christian, but ended the second game with four players scoring in double figures. Evan Reed finished with 12 points and Lain Isley added 11.

The Crusaders started the season with a 10-game winning streak before losing two of their last three games going into their final game of the invitational. Crase said the win against Highland Latin Christian should put them back on track.

“We’ve had two losses recently after going our first ten games without one and it served as a wake up call that we have to come out ready to play every night,” Crase said. “Otherwise we have a chance at getting beat.”