Heading into the final quarter of play Friday night at Columbus Christian, the Crusaders were feeling pretty comfortable, up 53-36 against Lighthouse Christian Academy.
However, the victory would not come easily.
The Crusaders would have to survive a 16-2 run by the Lions midway through the fourth quarter before claiming their 77-66 win.
“We have had this happen before,” said Columbus Christian coach Kevin Roth of the Crusaders’ defensive lapse in the fourth quarter. “With a good lead, I decide to rest some guys, and we just kind of fall off without some of our starting guys.”
Columbus Christian’s starting lineup does seem to make magic together.
Led by sophomore Josh Miracle and junior Dalane Shaull, the starting five Crusaders combined for 74 of the team’s 77 total points, with Miracle notching 22 and Shaull 21.
Columbus Christian had a slow first half, committing crucial turnovers and shooting only 1 of 7 from the 3-point line.
Chris Noblitt was able to deliver early for the Crusaders down low, as he had 12 of his 17 total points in the first half, helping to put the Crusaders up 29-21 going into halftime.
When Columbus Christian began to find its shot from outside in the third quarter, the lead continued to grow.
“Our 3-point shooting really helped to expand our lead and opened up some stuff inside for us, so we were able to get Dalane and Chris cutting to the basket, which is big for us,” Roth said.
With Shaull getting open in the paint, he was able to put up 17 of his 21 total points in the second half.
“We had strong second and third quarters, our defensive pressure was better and we rebounded much better, and that is what we wanted to concentrate on,” Roth said.
Columbus Christian continued to pressure, and despite giving up 21 points from free throws to Lighthouse Christian, the Crusaders survived.
Junior Austin Straub had 11 points and added nine rebounds for the Crusaders, while Shaull also pulled down nine rebounds. Ian Gray and Nick Bridgewater each added three points for Columbus Christian.
Lighthouse Christian was led by John Ray with 21 points, while Bray Snyder added 18.