The Christendom men's basketball team was in desperate need of a win on Saturday. The team hosted Mid-Atlantic Christian University, whom they lost to earlier in the season in North Carolina, 71-85. The team played well for most of that game, going down, but fighting back to keep the game close, but could never take the lead and ran out of steam. The Crusaders let that game slip away from them the final few minutes.
This time, the Crusader's were determined to take care of business at home and protect their home court; especially in front of a standing room only cheering crowd. The lady Crusaders took care of business in the first game of the home double-header, avenging a loss to Mid-Atlantic earlier in the season too, so now it was time for the men's team to do the same. The game was a physical back-and-forth battle from the start; both teams trading blows, making tough shots and playing solid and intense defense. The young Crusaders team played well in spurts, but at other times, let their youth show by turning the ball over, taking rushed shots, or allowing Mid-Atlantic's guards to penetrate and break down the defense.
Midway through the first half on a contested lay-up, freshman point guard Jerome Norton tweaked his knee and was unavailable for the remainder of the game. Christendom managed to weather the storm defensively though, and got solid offense from senior Jake Wagner, juniors Stephen Foeckler, Joe McMahon and his brother Mike, and freshmen Pete Day and Shane McCrum. With penetration from the guards and good inside/outside play, and three three-pointers from Pete Day, the Crusaders finished the half with a defensive stop and went to the locker room down 10 points.
At halftime, the team made some offensive and defensive adjustments. Without their point guard leading and directing, Nick Santschi and a few different guards helped to break Mid-Atlantic's press and run and direct the offense. Pete Day checked in a few minutes into the half and picked up where he left off, making a couple jumpers and another three point shot. With the defensive pressure by the guards and post presence of Joe McMahon, Wagner, McCrum, and Joe Pennefather manning the lane, the defense made several stops that led to fast break opportunities.
Mid-Atlantic continued to fire back, so the Crusaders needed an additional offensive spark. Freshman AJ Lancaster checked into the game and led an offensive assault, making all three of his attempted three pointers. Lancaster's last three point shot put the Crusaders up by 5 points. The offensive play of Day, Lancaster, and McCrum continued to energize the team and the crowd. Mid-Atlantic would not go down quietly though, and continued their full-court press or half-court trap defenses, making tough shots on offense. In the final couple minutes of play, Mid-Atlantic was forced to foul, but the Crusaders stepped up to the line, making 8 for 10 to seal the game and a 82-76 victory.
The Crusaders had balanced scoring with Day leading the charge with 21 points, McCrum with 12 points, Wagner with 11 points, Lancaster and Joe McMahon with 9 points, Mike McMahon with 8 points, Patrick Pennefather with 7 points, and Stephen Foeckler with 5 points. Foeckler's shot was not falling on Saturday, but he led the team in other ways; 3 of the team's 12 assists and 10 of the team's 42 rebounds. McCrum also had a monster day on the boards, grabbing 8, while Joe McMahon collected 6, Wagner grabbed 4, and other teammates chipped in two to three rebounds.
Saturday's win was a collected team effort and hopefully a glimpse of the remainder of the season and bright future for this young team. The Crusaders head to Patrick Henry on Monday, February 8, and then to Appalachian Bible College in West Virginia on Thursday, February 11, then its back home on Saturday, February 13, when they will host USCAA #5 ranked Johnson & Wales from Charlotte, NC.