Crusaders split tournament games

Kevin Roth had a gameplan coming into his team’s game against Pleasant View Christian on Friday afternoon. He wanted to take the Bulldogs’ best player, Hunter Land, out of the game on the offensive end.

“We wanted to take number 35 out of the game. We played him straight man to man with no switching and no helping off of him on drives,” the Columbus Christian coach said.

They held Land to only two 3-point makes and 14 points overall in the 60-45 win.

The Crusaders struggled early on offense scoring only six first quarter points.

“We had good looks. We just didn’t finish. We’ve been working on attacking the basket and not letting the defense alter our shots,” Roth stated.

Columbus Christian got it going in the second quarter. The Crusaders were able to build what appeared to be a six point lead heading into halftime until Conner Emily nailed a half-court shot at the buzzer, extending the lead to nine at 26-17.

The third quarter was a back and forth battle, with Columbus Christian leading by as many as 10 and Pleasant View cutting the lead to as little as four on two separate occasions. Going into the fourth, the Crusaders led by seven.

It was early in the fourth period that Columbus Christian’s defensive pressure started to wear down the Bulldogs, and this allowed them to pull away to finish the game. They led by as many as 17 points and secured the victory as the final horn sounded. In all, the Crusaders forced the Bulldogs into 28 turnovers. They also helped themselves on the offensive end with 18 offensive rebounds.

“I challenged some guys before the game. I told them to go get some rebounds. They responded well. The key to this win was definitely causing turnovers and offensive rebounding,” Roth stated.

The Crusaders finished the day with a 58-53 win against Faith Christian. It was Columbus Christian against the one man wrecking crew of Nathan VanDokkenburg in the first half.

Of the Eagles’ 24 first half points, VanDokkenburg scored 22 of them. On the other end of the floor, Columbus Christian began the game attacking the basket, but this too, seemed to be difficult as the Eagles blocked their first two attempts in the paint on their way to five blocked shots in the quarter. Even with these challenges, the Crusaders stayed in the game, trailing 24-22 at the half.

Columbus Christian got off to a great start to begin the third period, taking their first lead of the game on a CJ Reed 3-pointer. Reed followed that up with another three-pointer, giving the Crusaders their largest lead of the game at 28-24.

They also kept VanDokkenburg in check, holding him to two free throws in the quarter. It was the Eagles’ Jalen Jones who picked up where VanDokkenburg left off, coming off the bench to spark Faith Christian and regain the momentum. A steal and layup followed by a three point play helped the Eagles regain the lead and build it to eight points heading into the final period.

The Eagles’ size began to take its toll on the much smaller Crusaders as the game wore on. A three-point field goal by Luke Morrison built the lead to 11 points with 6:30 remaining in the game. The Eagles continued to pad their lead, as they held the Crusaders to nine fourth quarter points and just 16 in the second half. They built their biggest lead at 53-35 with 30 seconds remaining to ge the win

Reed led the Crusaders with 13 points, while VanDokkenburg scored 30 for the Eagles.

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Frank Bonner is a sports writer for The Republic. He can be reached at fbonner@therepublic.com or 812-379-5632.