For Columbus Christian head boys basketball coach Kevin Roth, it was an extremely different focus when it came to his team’s practice on Monday.
“I just wanted them to come in,” Roth said. “I wanted to make sure they had their uniforms.”
Roth knew that Xs and Os would have to take the day off.
The Crusaders won the school’s second Indiana Christian Schools Tournament state championship Saturday, 76-68 over Horizon Christian.
Even though that tournament was Columbus Christian’s main goal, the Crusaders still had one more tournament to play. The team began action Wednesday in the National Association of Christian Athletes Tournament in Dayton, Tenn. That tournament, which is an invitational, runs through Saturday.
The NACA tournament is more of a fun road trip for the team following the grind toward a state championship. It was obvious that the Crusaders were going to have a hard time preparing for the trip after taking down their first state title since 2003.
“It was even hard for me,” Roth said. “I watched that game (the win over Horizon Christian) again on Sunday. I had a son, Ryan, on that team in 2003 that won. That was very special.
“But this is the most talented team I’ve had here. Our maturity level came to the forefront last week. It was all business.”
Columbus Christian seniors Dalane Shaull, Ian Gray and Clayton Harvey finished their career on a 28-4 championship team, and there was even more.
They got to play on a wooden floor at home.
Even if the Crusaders hadn’t won the state championship, the season would have been special.
Columbus Christian had played on a tile floor, that covered concrete, since the gym opened in 1999. But a $69,000 Wisconsin maple floor was purchased from the Cincinnati Floor Co. and installed just before the season. Fundraising efforts made the floor possible.
“It was like a dream come true,” Shaull said. “I grew up playing on that tile and concrete, but there always were rumors of us getting (a wooden floor).”
Perhaps it was just a sign that Columbus Christian was going to have a remarkable season.
“We knew we were going to be pretty good,” said Shaull, who scored 20 points in the state title game. “But I wasn’t sure we were going to be state championship good. It was just amazing.”
“We made some history, and that is cool,” Gray said. “This was the perfect way for us to end. Hard work is the moral of the story. We worked hard in practice, worked hard on our defense. It all paid off.”
Harvey has been in the school system nine years and he said the thought of winning a state title seemed “unreachable.”
“We always heard the talk about the 2003 team,” he said. “But we never had beaten Horizon Christian before. So when we did it, it didn’t seem real.”
It was real and the Crusaders are dealing with their euphoria while trying to play more basketball this week.
“We always look forward to (the NACA tournament) and we have a blast there,” Shaull said.
“But in practice on Monday, there was no way we were going to focus.”