Crusaders cruise in regional final

Bloomington Lighthouse stayed with Columbus Christian’s boys basketball team during the first few minutes of the Saturday night’s ISSAA South Regional final.

In the blink of an eye, however, the game was virtually over.

The Crusaders produced a few big scoring runs the rest of the way and the Lions had no chance at a comeback. Columbus Christian claimed the championship with a 64-40 victory.

The Crusaders (24-5) will play Traders Point Christian in the state semifinals at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Faith Christian Church in Lafayette. The two teams faced each other on Nov. 25, with Columbus Christian prevailing 57-54. The championship will be at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.

The last time the Crusaders reached the state finals was in 2014. Seniors Evan Reed and Logan Roth were freshmen on that team.

“It definitely means a lot,” Roth said. “We went on a streak, and then we started taking it for granted. Better teams have come along the last couple of years. We’re excited to see how far we can take this.”

Reed agreed.

“It means a lot to get this on our last run,” Reed said. “We have worked so hard together. Now to comeback after we lost it means that much more to us.”

Bloomington Lighthouse led 9-8, but Columbus Christian finished the first quarter on a 9-0 run. With the score 26-21 midway through the second quarter, the Crusaders went on an 8-0 run and led 34-22 at the half.

Columbus Christian put the game away in the third quarter by outscoring the Lions 19-8. Crusaders coach Kevin Roth emptied his bench with less than three minutes left in the game.

The Lions beat Columbus Christian 34-33 in last year’s regional.

“Losing to them last year was a bitter pill to swallow,” Kevin Roth. “We were focused today, and I knew Bloomington was going to come out and put up one of their best games. I told them at halftime if we kept running things, we’d be fine.”

Blake Barker finished with a game-high 20 points to lead the Crusaders. Logan Roth added 16.

In the girls regional final matchup, Columbus Christian stood its ground against Bloomington Lighthouse in the first half. The second half, the Lions pulled away for a 38-26 win.

The Crusader defense had no answer for Grace Holdeman, who was hard to stop in the second half and finished with 30 points. Grace Lorimor finished with 10 points and Hannah Lorimor added nine for the Crusaders (3-14).