Junior forward Josh Miracle scored a game-high 37 points to help Columbus Christian capture the Indiana Christian South Regional title for the ninth consecutive year with an 80-58 win against Indianapolis Lighthouse.
Although Miracle dominated offensively, Crusaders coach Kevin Roth was thrilled about his team’s overall play.
“We were very much focused tonight,” Roth said. “Dalane Shaull provided great leadership out there being a senior and played out there refusing to lose being his last home game in front of his fans.”
“And Austin (Straub), Nick (Bridgewater) and Josh (Miracle) all did a very good job controlling the tempo of the game.”
Also playing his last home game was Columbus Christian’s Clayton Harvey.
“It felt great getting the victory tonight being my last home game in this gym,” Harvey said. “At the same time, it feels sad knowing that this was the last time I will play competitively here.”
The Crusaders were ahead 26-10 heading into the second quarter when the Bulldogs forced them into several turnovers to go on a 12-4 run to cut into the lead 30-22.
At that point the game started to get chippy. The Bulldogs’ Dontez Rayner was assessed a technical foul, which caused the bench in turn to receive a technical foul as well for disputing the call. That helped the Crusaders build a 44-25 halftime lead.
“We had Nick and Austin in foul trouble, and they were getting physical with some of our guys out there,” Roth said of the second quarter. “Once we got momentum, we played great defense and we got some big baskets from our second unit.”
“Once Lighthouse started cutting into our lead, we knew we had to kick it into gear,” Shaull said. “Coach told us to pick up the defensive intensity, which helped us on offense.”
“Coach told us to keep our heads up,” senior Ian Gray said. “After that we stayed focus and played great defense to force them into turnovers.”
“We had to keep pressuring them so they would not mount a comeback,” Harvey added.
The Crusaders were ahead 55-40 heading into the fourth quarter. Miracle made sure the Bulldogs had no chance at that comeback as he hit two 3-point baskets in the middle of the fourth quarter to seal the win.
Shaull finished with 12 points and six rebounds. Straub had 10 points, two rebounds and three steals. Bridgewater added seven points.
“We will enjoy and celebrate the win this weekend,” Roth said. “We will start preparing for our next game on Monday and to make sure the team stays focus next week.”