Crusaders fall short in invitational

A slow start to the game against Mulgrave of Australia cost the host Crusaders a loss Thursday in the Columbus Christian Invitational.

“Slow starts have been a problem for us all year long,” Columbus Christian coach Kevin Roth said. “For some reason, we start off slow coming out of the locker room for the beginning of the game and after halftime.”

Columbus Christian started the game with a 17-3 deficit on the way to losing 60-58 to Mulgrave. The Crusaders put together an 8-2 run at the end of the first quarter and tied the game with 4:50 left in the second quarter.

A Conner Emily layup gave the Crusaders their first lead of the game at 25-23 with 2:45 left in the first half. They were able to extend the lead to six before a 3-pointer by Sam Daniell cut the lead to 33-30 for the JATS at the buzzer. Columbus Christian outscored the JATS 22-11 in the second period.

Roth saw a difference in his team after the first quarter.

“We got back into the game because we were able to break them down off the dribble,” Roth stated. “They are a big team, so we were able to use our quickness.”

The Crusaders (5-10) were able to extend their lead to nine at 45-36 to star the second half, but that is as big as the lead would get. The JATS made a defensive adjustment and switched to zone, which slowed Columbus Christian down. The Crusaders still managed to hold a six point lead going into the final quarter.

Mulgrave continued to cut into the lead as the fourth quarter progressed. The JATS cut the Columbus Christian lead to 48-46 with three minutes left, and a 3-point play by Brandon Osborne tied the score at 52 with 1:30 remaining.

The game remained tied following baskets by each team. Columbus Christian’s Emily was fouled with seven seconds left and headed to the line for a one-and-one. He was unable to convert the free throw, and after a miss at the buzzer, the teams were headed to overtime.

The JATS began the extra period with a 6-0 run to take a 60-54 lead with two minutes remaining. A three-pointer by Reed, his fifth of the night, cut the lead in half. A Crusaders free throw cut the lead to two with 1:30 remaining, but neither team would score again. The Crusaders had the final possession, but Reed’s three missed as time expired, giving the JATS the victory.

“If we would have made our free throws we would have won the game,” Roth said. “We have struggled with that all year too. We are shooting about 50 percent on the year as a team.”

Reed paced the Crusaders with 23 points. Emily and Taylor Hilliard each chipped in 13. Tyson Tatti scored a team-high 22 for the JATS.

Columbus Christian also came up short against Micah Christian in the morning game, losing 58-55. Although the Crusaders came out of the locker room strong, they trailed 29-25 at the half.

A 19-9 run in the third quarter gave Columbus Christian a 44-39 lead heading into the fourth quarter. Micah then returned the favor with a run of their own in the final period, outscoring the Crusaders 20-11 to come away with the win. Emily paced the Crusaders with 15 points. Josh Jones also contributed 13 to help the Crusaders.

Micah Christian was led by Shawn Marcum with 21 points and Jacob Smith with 20.

The Crusaders will play again today, facing off against Pleasant View Christian at noon.