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Columbus Christian’s 80-70 boys basketball victory Monday against visiting Indiana School for the Deaf went from being somewhat sloppy to painful.
The Crusaders (23-3) never put away the Orioles (9-6) even though they had a comfortable cushion most of the game.
Making matters worse, Crusaders starting center Chris Noblitt was injured taking a charge in the third quarter and starting wing Josh Miracle rolled his ankle in the fourth quarter.
Noblitt was run over by Indiana School for the Deaf’s Preston Kelly, who kept his team in the game with 31 points. Kelly landed on top of Noblitt, who banged his head on the floor and was later taken to the hospital with a possible concussion.
Miracle left the game midway through the fourth quarter and didn’t return.
Their status is vitally important as Columbus Christian begins play in the Indiana Christian Schools basketball tournament on Feb. 18.
“It’s kind of a tough time for this,” Columbus Christian coach Kevin Roth said following the game. “Chris was starting to play real well, and he had a good game going.”
The Orioles had no answer early for Noblitt, who was five of five from the floor in the first half, all coming in the paint. Noblitt had 12 points when he left the game. He walked off the court under his own power, but was taken for a check-up as a precaution.
Miracle had 17 points when he went down.
“It was an ankle sprain and it’s the same ankle he has been having trouble with all year,” Roth said.
Columbus Christian had a little too much firepower for the Orioles, but the Crusaders’ sloppy play allowed the visitors to keep alive hope for a win.
The Crusaders built a 45-23 lead in the second quarter, but the Orioles scored the final eight points of the first half.
By scoring the first six points of the third quarter, Indiana School for the Deaf completed a 14-0 run that got them within 45-37.
Columbus Christian point guard Nick Bridgewater, who had five treys on the game and 16 points total, dropped a pair of 3-pointers that got his team back on track but later in the quarter Indiana School for the Deaf put together a seven-point run to close within 55-51.
Bad ball-handling fueled the Orioles’ surge.
However, Bridgewater and Austin Straub, who led Columbus Christian with 21 points, dropped 3-pointers during a 7-0 run and the Crusaders never were threatened again.
“I thought we were doing well,” Straub said. “But we started turning over the ball and letting them stay in it.
“We have to execute better.”
Kelly and Cody Crace (21 points) scored all but 18 of the Orioles points.
Once Noblitt was knocked out of the game, the Crusaders struggled to stop the Orioles from driving into the paint.
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