Crusaders hold on to win

INDIANAPOLIS — After rolling his ankle in practice Tuesday, Columbus Christian’s Logan Roth wasn’t sure he was going to be able to play Thursday afternoon.

“It was feeling a little better, but I wasn’t expected to get in much,” Roth said. “We started slow and I got in. I just totally forgot about it and started playing.”

Roth, who normally starts, came off the bench to score 18 points, including 12 in the third quarter, to help lead the Crusaders to a 58-56 victory against Indiana Deaf at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Blake Berger also scored 18 points for the Crusaders, who improved to 17-2.

Trailing 34-25 at halftime, the Crusaders outscored the Orioles 22-4 in the third quarter to take a 47-38 lead.

“We talked at halftime about our slow start and if we really wanted to win we had to come out hard in the third quarter and really make a statement,” Roth said.

However, the Orioles (5-6) battled back in the fourth quarter, closing the deficit to 55-54 with 41 seconds left.

Crusaders senior Lain Isley hit two free throws with 24.8 seconds left to give the Crusaders a 57-54 lead.

After Indiana Deaf failed to score, Isley was fouled with 12.4 seconds left. He missed the first but then hit the second of of the two free throws to make it a four-point game. The Orioles’ Lance Wood scored at the buzzer to provide the final margin.

“So they couldn’t hit a 3-pointer so it wouldn’t have mattered,” Isley said. “We work on free throw every day in practice. Free throws win games.”

Isley said the players did have to adjust to the court.

“High school gyms are a little smaller, so it was different,” Isley said.

Crusaders coach Kevin Roth said he made sure Isley was in at the end because he’s a good free-throw shooter.

Roth was certainly glad Logan Roth, no relation to the coach, was able to go as well.

“He said he felt he was a little weak but felt he could go,” Roth said. “Logan is a big part of what we do because he can rebound, he can defend inside. He does a little bit everything. I know he wasn’t 100 percent, but he was able to give us real good minutes. We set that little two-man game up with he and Blake. Their man would come out to get him and we would screen and roll and were able to get Logan and Blake some shots.”

Roth said it was at least third time this season his team has had to rally from halftime.

“A couple times we were down five points with two minutes left in the game and came back and won it,” Roth said. “They believe in themselves and don’t give up until the final horn.”

Roth said the full court press bothered his team at times.

“We usually do a better job against the press, but we had a lot of turnovers,” Roth said. “But it was a good win against a decent IHSAA opponent. It will be get us tuned up for Saturday’s game at Hauser.”

Roth said it was the first time his seniors had a chance to play at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

“They’re going to hang around and watch the Pacers play (Thursday night against Brooklyn),” Roth said.