Thursday, May 7, 2015

All Three Crusader Crusader Teams Clinch a Spot in the Playoffs

The Harrells Christian Academy baseball, women’s soccer, and softball teams all took care of business in the regular season to gain a spot in the NCISAA Division II State Playoffs.

The Varsity Baseball team enters the state playoffs as a #4 seed and will take on Calvary Baptist on Thursday, May 7th at home. The grudge match is set to begin at 4:30. The Varsity baseball team closed out the regular season with a loss to Parrott Academy in the regular season conference championship game. The Crusaders came up just shy of claiming their third conference title in three years. The Patriots overcame an 3-2 lead after some late inning heroics which led to a 4-3 victory over the Crusaders. The Crusaders have been solid across the diamond led by explosive offense at the plate. Out of the 17 man roster 6 players are batting over .400 and 8 players are batting over .300. Chance Bryant, a standout sophomore from Elizabethtown, is sporting an incredible .525 batting average on the season. The Crusaders are not only swinging the bat with confidence but they are also shutting it down when they toe the pitching rubber. The 8 man squad that shares pitching duties has kept earns runs to a minimum by posting a 2.71 combined era on the year. The Crusader pitching rotation is led by senior Mike Smith who has posted a 5-1 record to go along side 35 innings pitched in eight starts. The senior has also recorded 39 strikeouts on the year contributing to the teams 114 total strike outs. The Diamond Crusaders will look to make a deep run in the playoffs again this year. The Crusaders came up just shy last year by losing to Westchester Country Day School in the state championship series.

The Varsity Women’s Soccer team enters the state playoffs as a #5 seed forcing them to play a first round game against the #12 seeded Gaston Day on Friday, May 8th— Weather permitting. The Lady Crusaders closed out the regular season with a huge 4-0 victory over Coastal Christian to claim their spot as Coastal Rivers Conference Regular Season Runner-up. The closed out the regular season with a record of 12-3-1. The Crusaders exhibit talent all across the pitch. Four HCA players received all conference honors including senior Margaret Clark, senior Natalie Hardin, junior Haley Bowles, and sophomore goalie Emily Benton. Among accolades on the state level senior Margaret Clark and junior Haley Bowles received all state honors. The Lady Crusaders will look to continue their success as they prepare to make a run at a state championship.


The Varsity softball team enters the state playoffs as a #2 seed and will start their playoff run on Tuesday, May 12th at home against Concord First Assembly. The Crusaders closed out the regular season with 8-4 record. The Crusaders clinched a share of the Coastal Rivers Conference Regular Season Title after defeating rival Parrott Academy 12-4. HCA battled back after an early 4-0 deficit to eventually take a demanding lead and a share of a conference title. The Lady Crusaders will look to claim their third state championship title in three years as they make their run in the playoffs. The Crusaders have never been granted a #1 seed even when they have won a state title the past two years— So could the Lady Crusaders 3-peat? Only time will tell!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Varsity Women's Soccer Team Comes Together to Benefit Pigford Family

The Varsity Women's soccer team put on a spaghetti dinner at HCA Wednesday, March 11th. The Lady Crusaders came together to benefit the Pigford family who recently lost their home to a house fire. The team raised over $4,000 that will go to help the Pigford family. 

Anna Pigford is a member of the HCA soccer team her "HCA Family" wanted to do something to help out. Senior soccer player, Margaret Clark stated, "On behalf of the soccer team, I would like to thank everyone who helped, donated, or participated in our spaghetti dinner to raise money for the Pigford family tonight! God is so good and collectively we raised over $4,000! Words can't describe how blessed we are that we were presented with the opportunity to help not only a member of our school, but also a member of our soccer family. Thank you to everyone who came out and made it the success it was!!!"


The soccer team has also been working hard as a "family" on the field as well. the Crusaders are off to a 3-0 start and will look to continue their success and vie for a state championship in May.


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Varsity Women's Basketball Season Wrap Up

Don't Judge a Book by it's  Cover


The Varsity Women's Basketball team shattered all preseason expectations for the 2014-15 season. Before the beginning of the season, many people believed that the Lady Crusaders would struggle throughout the season and not be able to compete in conference play. Despite the negative preseason buzz the Lady Crusaders played with heart all throughout the season and finished with a 16-5 record.

Crusader players celebrate after a close victory over Cape Fear Academy.
The Crusaders dominated throughout the first part of the season by winning nine out of their first ten games. The Ladies' success did not slow down once conference play heated up. Conference play, however did bring tougher competition that challenged the Crusaders. HCA's second loss of the season came in a heartbreaking, 46-42, loss at Fayetteville Christian. The Lady Crusaders bounced back by winning their next five games including a 44-39 victory over Fayetteville Christian. The Crusaders closed out the regular season with a loss on senior night to the Fayetteville Academy Eagles. HCA sought out revenge on the Eagles by defeating them 32-27 in the semifinals of the Coastal Rivers Conference Tournament. After the Lady Crusaders' exhilarating win over the Eagles, HCA was outmatched by a familiar foe, Fayetteville Christian, in the conference tournament championship game.

The Lady Crusaders went on to earn the #11 seed in the NCISAA Division II State Playoffs where they faced off against the #6 seeded Asheville Christian Academy. HCA came up short against the Lions ending their season early.

Despite the team's loss early in the playoffs, the Lady Crusaders claimed the title of the Coastal Rivers Conference Regular Season Runners-up as well as the Coastal Rivers Conference Tournament Runners-up.

Margaret Clark rises up for a layup.
The Crusaders were led all year by sophomore Emily Benton who averaged just under 14 points per game. Senior Margaret Clark improved her game throughout the year by contributing on the offensive end with 10 points per game. As a team the Crusaders averaged scoring 41 points per game. The Crusaders had many players receive honors throughout the season. Emily Benton, Margaret Clark, Natalie Hardin, and Mikaela Stroud were named to the Coastal Rivers Conference All-Conference Team. Emily Benton and Mikaela Stroud were also named to the Coastal Rivers Conference All-Tournament Team.

The Lady Crusaders will look to replace many key seniors ( Jessi-Kate Batts, Margaret Clark, Rylie Evans, Natalie Hardin, and Ashley Usher) next year as they hope to contend for a conference title as well as a bid into the NCISAA State Playoffs. 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Varsity Men's Basketball Season Wrap-up

Quate Mckinzie rises above the rim in the Crusaders'
season opener against Carolina Friends School.
The Harrells Christian Academy Varsity Men's basketball lived up to all of the preseason hype in the 2014-15 season. The Varsity Men dominated throughout the majority of the year and closed out the season with a 20-5 record.

The Crusaders started out the season on a rampage by defeating their first three opponents by an average of just under 27 points. The Crusaders' momentum was quickly halted when they lost to a sharpshooting Cary Christian team who defeated the Crusaders 57-55 in a close back and forth battle.

The Crusaders did not let the close loss phase them, however as they came back and cruised to victory in their next game by defeating, conference opponent, Arendell Parrott Academy 60-54.

Following the team's win over Parrott Academy the Varsity Men faced one of their biggest tests of the regular season. The Crusaders faced off against Freedom Christian at home. The star studded Patriots featured many talented athletes that eventually outmatched the Crusaders in the end handing them their second loss of the season, 70-64.

The Crusaders went on to win another game before yet another tough regular season test. The Crusaders took on, at the time, undefeated West Brunswick High School in the Cape Fear Academy Holiday Invitational. The Crusaders dropped a 63-61 heartbreaker to the Trojans. The Crusaders used the close loss as momentum heading into the rest of the season.

After the loss to the Trojans the Crusaders went on a 15 game winning streak that thrived during conference play, the conference tournament, and into the opening rounds of the NCISAA Division II State Playoffs. During the Crusaders' streak they claimed the Coastal Rivers Conference Regular Season Title with an undefeated regular season conference record of 10-0. The Crusaders also cruised through the conference tournament that was capped off with a 77-38 victory over Fayetteville Christian in the championship game of the Coastal Rivers Conference Tournament. 

The Crusaders headed into the NCISAA Division II State Playoffs as a #12 seed where they faced off against the #5 seeded Freedom Christian. HCA pulled away from the Patriots in the closing stages of a grudge match to clinch the 62-51 victory. 
The Varsity Men's basketball team celebrates with fans after
their 11 point victory over Freedom Christian.

The Crusaders then traveled to Asheville to take on, rival, Davidson Day in the quarterfinals of the state playoffs. The Crusaders trailed for the majority of the game but edged their way back in the closing minutes of regulation to force not one but two overtimes. The Crusaders went on to defeat the Patriots 65-60 in double overtime to advance to the Final Four of the NCISAA Division II State Playoffs.

In the Final Four, the Crusaders faced off against the #1 seeded Northside Christian Academy. The Knights took control from the outset of the game by pressuring the Crusaders which led to easy layups on the offensive end. The Knights' main weapon, however was their three point shooting abilities. They were on fire from behind the arc which led to an easy 83-56 win over the Crusaders.

Despite their loss to Northside, the varsity men's basketball team made school history by appearing in back to back Final Fours of the NCISAA State Playoffs in the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons.

Sophomore point guard Tyshii Scarborough served as the glue
to the Crusader offensive attack all year.
The Crusaders created a balanced scoring attack all year that resulted in three players who averaged scoring in double figures. The Crusaders were led by Quate Mckinzie who averaged just under 17 points per game. Among other high scoring Crusaders were, sharpshooter, CJ Kirchoff who averaged 12 points per game along with Marcus Scarborough who averaged 11 points per game. The Crusader offense was held together all year by sophomore point guard, Tyshii Scarborough. Scarborough ranked sixth in the state of North Carolina in assists per game with 7. 

Many Crusader players received honors throughout the season. Spencer Cooke, CJ Kirchoff, Quate Mckinzie, Marcus Scarborough, and Tyshii Scarborough were all named to the Coastal Rivers Conference All-Conference Team. CJ Kirchoff, Quate Mckinzie, Marcus Scarborough, and Tyshii Scarborough were also named to the Coastal Rivers Conference All-Tournament Team. Quate Mckinzie was named the Coastal Rivers Conference Player of the year as well as being named to the NCISAA Division II All-State Team. Seventh year head coach, Clayton Hall, was named the Coastal Rivers Conference Coach of the Year.

Looking forward to the 2015-16 season, the Varsity Men will look to vie for a State Championship as the Crusaders only lose four seniors in Spencer Cooke, Tristan Crumpler, Evan Hardison, and Justin Smith. Next year, the Crusaders will be under the leadership of their three leading scorers in the 2014-15 season- Quate Mckinzie (16), CJ Kirchoff (12), and Marcus Scarborough (11). HCA will look to put all of these intangibles together to contend for a State Championship in the 2015-16 season.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Natalie Hardin Becomes 4th HCA Athlete to be Named "Star Athlete of the Week"




For 17-year-old Harrells Christian Academy senior Natalie Hardin, sports is something that she has loved to play for years.

“I like all sports,” the three-sport (basketball, soccer and volleyball) Crusader star said Wednesday. “I am currently playing basketball (at point guard) and we have really gelled this season ... we are really close.”

The team, coached by Wayne Cannady, played in the state playoffs during one of the coldest weeks in Sampson County in the last decade.

“It is exciting to be 16-4 right now,” she said. “We lost a lot of our seniors coming into this year and no one really expected us to play this well because we basically have a whole new starting line-up. We are very close as a team and everyone is working hard and having a good time.”

When told she has been named this week’s Performance Auto/Sampson Weekly Star Athlete of the Week, Hardin said she was stunned.

“I ... really ... I am just really surprised by this,” she said. “I really didn’t even know I was nominated for this. I will tell you, it makes me feel pretty good to know that someone is looking out for me and thinking that I am worthy of this award.”

Hardin, who lives in Elizabethtown with her parents, Wilt and Tracy, as well as two younger sisters, Ashley and Heather, said she transferred to Harrells just two years ago.

“To be honest, it has been one of the best experiences of my life,” she admitted. “As soon as I came here
to Harrells, the people here made me feel like I have been here for years. You know, you see the teachers here sacrificing their time to help students, including me. They come in early and stay late to help you ... the coaches here do the same. When you have supportive people like that around you, it helps you grow, not just as a player, but as a person as well.”

Which is why her final year at Harrells will be bittersweet.

“I feel like I am going to do well,” she said. “But I know that I am going to miss my family (when I am away at college) and that makes me feel sad. I am going to miss my Harrells family too. We are all really close- knit at this school and I love being around everyone here because everyone has been so good to me. I am going to miss my close friends and I know that we will be friends forever, but we will be going our separate ways and will never be as close as we are now ... that is going to be sad. I am going to try and do what my mother told me, to just enjoy everything that I can in these final months.”

Hardin began playing recreational sports when she was about 4-years-old. “I played recreation ball and then played in middle school as well,” she explained. “In volleyball I played outside hitter; in basketball I play point guard, and in soccer, I play midfielder. If I had to pick a favorite, I would say it would be soccer.”

Why soccer?

“I don’t know why, really,” she admits. “I think because it just comes natural to me to play soccer. I have to work hard to play basketball and volleyball. I have always loved to play soccer because it just comes
naturally to me.”

Hardin is also working hard in the classroom. The straight ‘A’ student says she wants to go to college.
“Right now, I am undecided on what college I want to go to,” she admits, “but I want to double major in media/communications and Spanish. I like to talk to people and I would love to get into sports broadcasting at some point.”

Despite her talent in three-sports, Hardin said that she wants to concentrate on her studies while at college.
“I will stay active,” she explains, “I will probably get involved with intramural athletics while I am there. But really I want to focus on my studies while I am there.”

In 10 years, Hardin said her dream is that she hopes to have a successful career and to be happy.
“I want to be financially stable,” she said. “I hope that I will have a family by then too ... I just really hope that whatever I am doing, I have a happy home.”

She continues, “My parents instilled a great work ethic in me and I think playing sports helps because you have to work hard and when you are out there, you have to do it. You have to work hard to do well in life ... My mother has always told me to just go out there and be the best that you can be. That is all you can do.”

For right now, she is doing just that.

Although she doesn’t get much free time - with school, practices, games and homework- Hardin averages about 15 hour days working and practicing.

“I have long days,” she says with a laugh. “I put in a lot of work ... But when I do get free time, which is very rare, I like to hang out with my friends ... but to be honest, I really don’t have a lot of free time.”

When asked if she has any advice for any upcoming student/athletes, Hardin said she has some really good advice. “You have to be confident in yourself. You have to remember that just because you are a freshman or you are younger, you are just as important as anyone else and you have every right to be where you are. You just have to believe in yourself.”

Hardin said that all of her successes can be attributed to the people who have surrounded her with their love and support.

“My mom and dad have always been there for me,” she said. “All of my family members have been there for me and I just want to thank them all for that. I would like to thank all of my coaches who took the time with me to push me to do well. Especially Mr. Cannady for believing in me and taking the time to help me and guide me into being a better player and person.” 

All credit for this article goes to the Sampson Weekly

Other Crusader Athletes to be named the Sampson Weekly Performance Auto Star Athlete of the Week include OH Rouse, Ashley Usher, and Andrew Miller

Friday, February 20, 2015

The Varsity Men Take Down Freedom Christian in Opening Round of State Playoffs

The Varsity Men's Basketball team celebrates with fans after the game.
The Varsity Men's basketball team traveled to Fayetteville Friday, February 20 to take on Freedom Christian in the opening round of the NCISAA Division II State Playoffs. The Crusaders defeated the Patriots 62-51 in a back and forth affair.

The Patriots jumped out to a quick start by outscoring the Crusaders 10-3 in the first five minutes of the first quarter. The Crusaders could not get any shots to fall. Under the leadership of senior Spencer Cooke, the Crusaders were able to battle back and cut the Patriot lead to 13-12 heading into the second quarter. The Crusaders continued their momentum in the second quarter behind CJ Kirchoff who was on fire from three point range after a slow start. The Crusaders' great ball movement enabled Kirchoff to drain a couple three pointers from his "sweet spot" in the corner which eventually led to a Patriot timeout after the Crusaders extended their lead to 22-15 with 3:40 left to play in the half. The Crusaders held Freedom to just seven points in the second quarter and headed into the half with a 27-20 lead over the Patriots. In the midst of one of the Crusaders' star players, Quate Mckinzie, only being able to record two points in the first half the Crusaders had to look for other scoring options. CJ Kirchoff stepped up for the Crusaders by scoring 11 points. Spencer Cooke also contributed 9 points heading into the half.

The Crusaders started the second half with the ball and began to pull away but the Patriots did not stay down for long. Freedom forced multiple turnovers which led to easy fast break buckets at the other end. The Crusaders headed into the final quarter of play with a slender 40-38 lead. After a couple of traded baskets by both teams the Crusaders gained some momentum after a made three pointer by CJ Kirchoff which was followed by a slam dunk by Quate Mckinzie who came alive in the second half. The Patriots continued to fight but could not cut the Crusader lead below five points for the remainder of the game. The Crusaders closed out the game fittingly with yet another slam by Quate Mckinzie and finally a made three pointer by CJ Kirchoff with 50 second left to play. In the midsts of Crusader fans on their feet roaring, the final buzzer sounded to clinch the Crusader 62-51 victory over the #5 seeded Freedom Christian Academy Patriots.

CJ Kirchoff led the Crusader scoring attack with 17 points. Kirchoff coined multiple timely three pointers throughout the game that swung the momentum back into the Crusaders favor. After a slow first half, Qaute Mckinzie fought through triple teams in the second half to finish with 16 points on the night. Marcus Scarborough penetrated into the lane all night and drained a couple clutch three pointers to finish the game with 10 points.

With the Crusaders' 11 point victory over Freedom Christian the Varsity Men improved to 19-4 on the season. The Crusaders will travel to Asheville next Thursday, February 26 to take on Davidson Day in the second round of the NCISAA Division II State Playoffs.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Andrew "Joey" Miller Joins Slate of Crusader Athletes to be Named "Star Athlete of the Week"



Being a sports lover is something that comes easy to Harrells Christian Academy senior Andrew Miller.


If you have followed Crusaders over the last two years, you have seen Miller’s work in newspapers - including The Sampson Weekly - read his blogs and also followed his scoring summaries on Twitter.

If you are a fan of Harrells Christian Academy Athletics, Miller, who is officially called HCA’s Director of Sports Communications, is one of the unsung heroes of the school.

Hero is too strong of a word, says the humble 17-year-old. “Well I just kind of jumped into it,” he said. “I started the Twitter page to keep people informed on how we are doing. Our teams (especially football) have to travel to Charlotte and some people just can’t get there. So I started the Twitter page, just thinking I may have about 100 people –maybe -but it turned out a lot of people have been following it.”


In fact, Harrells Twitter page has 400-plus followers.


If you have been to any of the Crusader home games, it is Miller’s voice you hear announcing the starting line-ups for the teams.


“I try to make it a big production,” he says. “With basketball, we try and do intro videos for the boys and girls. We try and make it into a major production.”


So impressed with his hard work and effort, officials from Harrells Christian Academy nominated Miller for this week’s Performance Auto/Sampson Weekly Star Athlete of the Week.


When told of the honor, Miller says he is stunned.


“I had no idea,” he admits. “I am just the guy who writes the articles ... I am really surprised; I just had no idea. To know that someone has nominated me for this, it makes me feel really good.”


“It is a lot of work and a lot of late nights,” he admits. “But when you are walking the hallways and players say they read your work or liked what you wrote about them, it means a lot. To know that they appreciate what you do ... that means everything. It makes it all worth it.”


The behind-the-scenes work that Miller puts in is something that keeps him focused too.
“It really pushes me to another level,” he admits. “I have to meet deadlines and get things done in order. For me, it really balances everything out.”


Born to Sandy and Gregory Miller, Andrew grew up living in Burgaw. He also has an older brother, Nathan, who is a senior at N.C. State University.


“I have always been around sports,” Miller said. “We have always had season tickets to N.C. State football and basketball games and I get a lot of my ideas from them and the way that their media department handles those teams with the production. I have just always loved sports. When my brother played at Harrells, I was water boy. In fact, if you look back at some of the old pictures (from Harrells) you can see a kid in a white shirt on the sidelines with the water (laughs) ... that is me. So, I have always been around it.”
Ironically, for someone who loves football, Miller was told he would never be able to play it.


“I was born with an enlarged heart,” he explains. “So, I was told that I would never be able to participate in playing the game. I grew up knowing that. But I did play JV basketball and I love playing baseball, which I will play again this year. Our baseball team made it to the state championships last year and lost in a 3-game series. But this year, we are going to have a good team too. So hopefully we will be vying for the state title this year.”


But don’t let him fool you, Miller noted that his senior year is going to be a bittersweet one for him. In that, he is trying to savor every last moment to enjoy his final year of school.


“You know, some days I think that I am ready for the year to end,” he said, “but then I think how hard it is going to be. I was just thinking that the basketball team is in the playoffs and to think that this will be the last time that I will be announcing the starting line-ups at the game for them - It is going to be hard.”


Although his parents are CPA’s and his brother is going to school for accounting as well, Miller, who has already been accepted to Campbell University and UNC-W (he will hear back from N.C. State in March), said that he is going to college for Communications.
“I want to start to make connections and just have the opportunity to get my foot in the door,” Miller said. “That is what I want to do for a career – something in professional sports media. That is my dream. I am hoping to start working with one sports team and to just go from there.”


He has already started showing that professionalism when he gets behind the microphone to introduce players at Crusader games.


“I like to get dressed up for the games,” he explained. “I wear a blazer and a tie to the games. It makes it more professional. When you do that and carry yourself a certain way (professionally) it shows respect for what you are doing and, really, for yourself.”


One group that Miller is very aware of is the younger students at Harrells.


“It is important for me to give back to this school and my community because of the kids,” he said. “I am 6 foot 2 inches and if I see a kid I will say ‘hi’ or give them a high-five because every kid wants to feel included. We all do.”


When asked what he will miss most about Harrells Christian Academy, Miller said that it is hard to put into words.


“Always be thankful for opportunities that you are blessed with,” he said without hesitation. “When you get it, take advantage of it. Look at me, I was told sports wasn’t an option when I was little and I turned it around and made it so I can still be involved with sports. You just have to make it happen. All you have to do is work hard.”


In addition to his family, Miller said that he wanted to send special ‘thank yous’ to some other special people.


He also wanted to thank the athletic department at Harrells.


Miller is the perfect example of making the most of his opportunities, but it also helps that he has the ambition and drive to make sure that all of his future dreams will come to fruition. We wish him the best of luck in all of his endeavors.


Other Crusader athletes who have been named the Sampson Weekly Performance Auto Star Athlete of the Week include OH Rouse and Ashley Usher


All credit for this article goes to the Sampson Weekly











Although he does play baseball (second baseman) for the Crusaders and played JV basketball for two years, Miller said that he is most at home working as sports director for the teams.














Another reason why that is important to him is because he knows that others are watching him work.
“You don’t know what kind of impact you are making on someone,” he said. “If you hold yourself to a higher level, kids will follow in those footsteps. I want to set a good example when I do what I do. Because you just don’t know who will be watching ...”

For his Eagle Scout project (in Boy Scout Troop 242 out of Burgaw) Miller built an archery range (Camp Kirkwood) and a shed. Which is still used by his community.

Which is exactly why leaving the school in the next couple of months will be hard for him.

“Well, I will miss a little bit of everything,” he explains. “From being around all the teams and all of the happiness and celebrations after a win, to really, the family aspect of being here at Harrells. I have been around the same people for the past 13 years and it is truly like family to me and in being part of that ‘family’ ... I am going to miss it.”
Is there a piece of advice he would give to a younger student coming into high school?


“Well, I have to thank Gina Strickland,” he said. “She is the one who told me that I had a gift for writing when I was in the 10th grade. She saw a gift in me and I thank her for that.”

“I have to thank all the coaches for allowing me to get in and be part of the teams and the student-athletes at the school, without them, I wouldn’t be able to do anything. I have been blessed to be able to continue to cover them and they are really good teams that have had success and that has really helped too.”



Ashley Usher: Proud to be a Christian Crusader


Harrells Christian Academy senior Ashley Noelle Usher has been named this week’s Performance Auto/Sampson Weekly Star Athlete of the Week.

While she is currently playing basketball for the Christian Crusaders, she said she was proud of the way the schools’ volleyball team finished the season.

“Our team started off a little rough,” the 18-year-old says diplomatically, “but we really came together towards the end of the season.”

Although she said she wasn’t expecting to be named Star Athlete of the Week, Usher said she was excited to earn the honor.
“I was really excited to get it,” she admitted. “It feels good to know that all the hard work and dedication that has been put into the sport that I love has paid off. However, I wouldn’t be the athlete that I am without my teammates and my coaches.”
Born in Watha, N.C. the three-sport star (including basketball and softball) has been attending Harrells Christian Academy since kindergarten.

She got interested in sports at around the age of four. “That is when I started playing softball and I have been playing ever since,” she explained.

“Unfortunately, there weren’t any programs around for me to play basketball and volleyball at a younger age. (Because) I definitely would have played if I could have.”

Usher said that she first got involved with volleyball when she was in the seventh grade.

“It was really the earliest time I was able to,” she said. “My sister played volleyball and my mama coached for a little while, so I was at all of her games and practices ... I was able to be exposed to it, really, since I was in the third grade.”
Once she got on the court, she felt at home.

“There’s not really one specific thing that I love about it, because I love everything about it,” Usher explained. “I’ve always had a passion for the sport and nothing beats the feeling that I get when I play. But one of my favorite things about it is that it’s a team sport. A selfish person is not able to thrive on the volleyball court; it takes the whole team to play.”
For her first two years (in high school) playing for the Crusaders, Usher played setter. But she moved into a more comfortable position on the court.

“I was a setter from my seventh grade year until my junior year,” she said, “until I became a libero. I feel like a libero is really what I should have been all along. I enjoy being a libero and I feel like I really thrive in that position.”
But it is the game itself that she enjoys the most.

“I love the energy on the court,” Usher said. “There’s not any time for you to be standing still because there is always something going on. The feeling I get when I get a really good dig or when one of my teammates gets a good kill is unbeatable.”

As good as Usher is on the court, she is just as solid off of it.

“I really enjoy Science,” she said. “I guess because I want to go into the medical field, studying life and how things come about really interests me.”

Usher has taken all Honors, AP and Dual Enrollment classes and has been a member of Beta Club throughout high school. On top of that, she was a Junior Marshal last year for graduation and has maintained a 4.5 GPA throughout her high school career.

So it makes perfect sense that Usher plans on working on becoming a nurse.

“I want to be a nurse because it’s something I’ve always had a passion for,” she said. “In the next 10 years I hope to have a job at a good hospital and be successful; hopefully have a family.”

When asked if she plans on playing any sports in college, Usher says flatly, ‘no’.

“I want to focus on school once I get to college,” she explained. “But I am really going to miss it (playing sports).”
Although this is her final year at Harrells, Usher said it was her pleasure playing for them.

“It’s been an honor to be a Crusader,” she said. “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the time that I’ve gotten to play sports here. The memories I’ve made and the lessons I’ve learned on the court and on the field is something that I will carry with me the rest of my life. There’s no better feeling than putting on my green and gold.”

She admits that the support that she has received from the community, teachers, fans and teammates has meant everything to her.

“They’re all really supportive and it feels good to see your teachers and fellow classmates in the stands cheering you on.”
She continued by showing some love for her family, coaches and friends.

“All I can say is thank you. I honestly wouldn’t be the person or athlete I am without all my coaches and teammates. They’ve all played a huge role in my life and they will always hold a special place in my heart. Also, to my family, I couldn’t have done any of it without you all. I’ve never been to a game that I haven’t had at least one family member at and it really means a lot. Things get really busy and overwhelming at times, but I really and truly appreciate all that you all have done for me. All of that support has meant everything to me and I wouldn’t have been able to do any of it without them.”

When asked what was the best piece of advice she has ever been given, Usher said it was from Coach Crump.

“She has always been there for me and she pushes me to be the best I can be on and off the court,” she said. “She’s been with me a really long time and she knows what I am capable of and she won’t let me settle for anything else.”

What advice would Usher pass down to an upcoming freshman player?

“Enjoy every minute of it, because it goes by way too fast,” she said. “Work hard and always give 110 percent, it will all pay off in the long run.”

Maturity at its finest. 


All credit for this article goes to the Sampson Weekly

Monday, February 16, 2015

Mike Brill Named as New Harrells Christian Academy Head Football Coach

Head Coach Mike Brill pictured with his family.
HARRELLS, N.C.- Mike Brill addressed the Harrells Christian Academy upper school student body on Monday morning, February 16. Brill expressed his excitement for the opportunity to be back on the sidelines. Brill who has been in coaching for 32 years, expressed that he would have never imagined that he would ever be at HCA but that he cannot wait to carry on the tradition of excellence not only on the gridiron but in the classroom and in the community. The team will not experience much change however under the new head coach. Brill implements the same "Wing T" offensive set that has been at Harrells since the reign of Jack Holley. Brill stated, "We are going to do the same thing Jack did. I already gave Winfred some homework. I gave him a book with nearly 100 plays and said you tell me what you call them in your system and we will go from there." Winfred Johnson, who took over as interim head coach last year, will be calling the shots against this year offensively while Brill will work to lead his troops on the defensive side of the ball. When asked about the opportunity to bring back a state title to "The Store" once again Brill stated, "1971, 1972, 1973, 1977, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1993, 2003, 2005, 2008- Why not 2015. I'm excited for the opportunity to help these boys get a ring, but it is going to take hard work."

Brill is no stranger to the gridiron or Harrells Christian Academy as he started his football career as the quarterback at Wayne Country Day School. Brill's team faced off against the Crusaders in the conference championship where Brill says, "I lost the game." Brill threw a pass to the back of the end zone that was intercepted by a Crusader defender to seal the Crusader victory. He stated, "All I can remember is #14, he intercepted the ball and we lost which took away our chance to make it to the state playoffs." Brill went on to play baseball at Methodist University. Brill had the option to come back and play one more year of high school ball but opted to go ahead to the collegiate level. The Crusaders went on to win a state championship the next year while he was at Methodist.

After a career ending injury at Methodist, Brill transferred to East Carolina University, where he went on to earn his degree in Physical Education which presented him the opportunity to pursue a coaching career. Brill started his coaching career close to home at Warsaw Jr. High School where he served as the head football, basketball and baseball coach for three years. Brill sported a 16-2 record that resulted in three Duplin County Conference Championships as the head coach.

After his success at the Jr. High level Brill moved down the road to Wallace- Rose Hill high school where he worked under the late Jack Holley. Brill served as the Junior Varsity Head Football coach along with the title of Co-offensive coordinator at the varsity level.

After being mentored by Holley, Brill made his first appearance as a head coach at the Varsity level. Brill was hired at South Robeson High School where he produced an 89-35 record (72%) over a ten year period. During his tenure as a Mustang, Brill coached and developed the notable, Vonta Leach. Leach played under coach Brill all four years and went on to play college football at East Carolina University. After his career as a Pirate, Leach went on to the NFL where he played for the Houston Texans along with the Baltimore Ravens.

After winning seven Three- Rivers Conference Championships and leading his team to three Regional Finals in the state playoffs, Brill took over as head football coach of Lumberton High School. Brill turned around the program who recorded a losing record in 18 of 20 years to a 43-30 record over six years. Brill led his team to the playoffs in all six years as head coach and claimed the title as conference title runners up in four seasons.

After his turn around efforts at Lumberton Brill was hired as Athletic Director at Flora McDonald where he currently presides. Brill will take over as the head football coach for the Crusaders on March 2nd. Brill will look to lead the tradition-rich Crusaders to their 14th State Championship in the 2015 season.


Sunday, February 15, 2015

Varsity Men Claim Coastal Rivers Conference Tournament Title

Varsity Men


The Varsity Men's basketball team claimed the Coastal Rivers Conference Tournament Title on Saturday, February 14 with a 77-38 victory over Fayetteville Christian. The Crusaders' 39 point victory featured quite possibly the team's best performance of the season. HCA jumped out to an early 27-8 advantage heading into the second quarter. The Crusaders would not look back by completely dominating all across the court. The athleticism and pressure by the Crusaders led to an eventual 77-38 victory over the Warriors. The Crusaders balanced scoring attack produced four players who scored in double figures. CJ Kirchoff led the way for the Crusaders with 24 points. Quate Mckinzie dominated all over the court by recording 16 points, 8 rebounds, and 10 blocks. Mckinzie shot 8 for 8 from the field. Marcus Scarborough totaled 13 points followed by Donta Chavious with 11 points. Tyshii Scarborough, the glue to the Crusader offense, dished out 9 assists throughout the course of the game. The Varsity Men's hard work all year paid off resulting in a 19-4 (12-0) overall record heading into the NCISAA Division II State Playoffs. The Crusaders head into the state playoffs as a #12 seed. HCA travels to Fayetteville on Tuesday, February 17 to take on #5 seeded Freedom Christian. 



In regards to playoff seeding: All teams are judged by this criteria

40- Head to head
25- Common Opponent
15- Wins against tournament teams
12- Strength of Schedule
8- Late Season Performance

The Crusaders did not beat any teams that made the tournament. Heading into the conference tournament the Crusaders were looking for a #8 seed. After the Crusaders' seeding rep saw that being a #8 seed would mean the Crusaders would play #1 seed Northside in the second round the Crusaders' seeding rep began searching for other options. Now for consideration for the #10 or #11 seed, the Crusaders would be forced to travel to Asheville instead of the final compromise of Fayetteville. Head Coach Clayton Hall felt it would serve his boys better to take on a Freedom team that they have already played against resulting in the #12 seed.

Here is complete in depth analysis on all of the teams in the playoffs:

#1 Northside Christian(22-5)
Wins - Davidson Day, @ First Assembly, Calvary Baptist, Gaston Day (3) (MAC Champ)
Loses - First Assembly
Upcoming - 
* NCA has head to head, common opp and late season over GDS

#2 Gaston Day(22-8)
Wins - Freedom Christian, @ Westchester, Asheville Christian, First Assembly (2)
Loses - @ Davidson Day, @First Assembly , Northside Christian (3)
Upcoming - None
* GDS has head to head and late season over CFA

#3 First Assembly(22-8)
Wins - Freedom Christian, Gaston Day, @ Northside Christian, @ Davidson Day, Westchester, Calvary Baptist
Loses - Northside Christian, Gaston Day (2)
Upcoming - None
* CFA has head to head over DDS and Common Opponent

#4 Davidson Day(20-9)
Wins - Gaston Day, Calvary Baptist (2), Carolina Day (2)
Loses - Northside Christian, First Assembly, Westchester, Asheville Christian,
Upcoming - None
*DDS has common opp, SOS and wins vs tourney teams over FCA

#5 Freedom Christian(20-6)
Wins - @ Village Christian, Carolina Day, Cary Christian, @ Harrells Christian,
Loses - @ Gaston Day, First Assembly, Village Christian
Upcoming - None
* FCA has common opp and late season over VCA

#6 Village Christian(18-12)
Wins - @ Asheville Christian, @ Carolina Day, @ Freedom Christian @ Calvary Baptist, @ Cary Christian
Loses - Freedom Christian, Cary Christian
Upcoming - None
*VCA has head to head and SOS over ACA

#7 Asheville Christian(20-6)
Wins - Davidson Day, Cary Christian, Carolina Day (2)
Loses - @ Gaston Day, Village Christian
Upcoming - None
*  ACA has wins over tourney teams on WCDS and SOS with win over Rabun Gap. Tied for common opp and late season performance.

 #8 Westchester Country Day(18-6)
Wins - Davidson Day, Calvary Baptist,
Loses - Gaston Day, @ First Assembly
Upcoming - None
* WCDS has late season and SOS over CCS
 #9 Cary Christian(16-9)
Wins - @ Harrells Christian, @ Village Christian (EPIC Champ)
Loses - Freedom Christian, Carolina Day, Asheville Christian, Village Christian
Upcoming - None
* CCS has wins over tourney teams, late season and common opp over CBDS and CDS

#10 Calvary Baptist(8-18)
Wins - Carolina Day
Loses - Northside Christian, @ First Assembly, Village Christian, Davidson Day (2), Westchester
Upcoming - None
*CBDS has head to head over CDS

#11 Carolina Day(16-13)
Wins - @ Cary Christian
Loses- Freedom Christian, Davidson Day(2), Village Christian, Calvary Baptist, Asheville Christian (2)
Upcoming - None
*CDS has common opp over HCA with their win over CCS as well as wins over tourney teams.
 
#12 Harrells Christian(18-4)
Wins - None (CRC Champ)
Loses - Cary Christian, Freedom Christian
Upcoming - None

Crusader Regular Season and Post Season Awards

Varsity Men All Conference Team Members for the Crusaders:

Quate Mckinzie
Tyshii Scarborough
Marcus Scarborough
CJ Kirchoff
Spencer Cooke

Varsity Men All Tournament Team Members for the Crusaders:


Quate Mckinzie
Tyshii Scarborough
Marcus Scarborough
CJ Kirchoff

2014-15 Coastal Rivers Conference Player of the Year:

Quate Mckinzie

2014-15 Coastal Rivers Conference Tournament MVP: 

Quate Mckinzie

Friday, February 6, 2015

Varsity Men Take Flight Against Eagles While Varsity Women Come Up Short

Varsity Men

On senior night, at the Foundation Center on the Campus of Harrells Christian Academy the Varsity Men's basketball team exploded against Fayetteville Academy to earn their tenth conference victory of the season, 74-47. The Crusaders pushed the tempo all throughout the game by forcing many turnovers that led to easy buckets in transition.

The Crusaders got out to an early lead by outscoring the Eagles 20-8 in the first quarter. The Crusaders continued their scoring success in the second quarter. HCA headed into the half with a 42-17 advantage under the leadership of CJ Kirchoff who coined four three pointers for 12 points and Quate Mckinzie who recorded 11 points.

HCA did not slow down in the second half which led to multiple fast break dunks for the Crusaders. By the end of the third quarter the Crusaders extended their lead to 30 points, 63-33. In the closing stages of the game all of the seniors earned valuable playing time. Their hard work all season paid off on their way to a 27 point victory over the Eagles. When the Crusaders have had success this year they have created a balanced scoring attack, and that is exactly what happened against the Eagles. The Crusader scoring attack produced four players in double figures. Quate Mckinzie led the way with 24 points. Mckinzie's teammates made great passes to him all night which led to a grand total of seven dunks for him throughout the course of the game. CJ Kirchoff made his mark from behind the three point arc by draining five three pointers. He finished the game with 15 points. Donta Chavious finished the game with 11 points. He was quickly followed by Spencer Cooke with 10. With the Crusaders 27 point victory over the Eagles they claim the Coastal Rivers Conference Regular Season Title. HCA closed out regular season play with a 16-3 (10-0 ) record. The Crusaders will be back in action on Friday, February 13 as they take on Fayetteville Academy in the semifinals of the Coastal Rivers Conference tournament at Parrott Academy- Game time 7:00.

Varsity Women

The Lady Crusaders struggled to find the basket all game in their heartbreaking 35-32 loss to Fayetteville Academy. A "nasty" first quarter featured a whole lot of defense and well quite honestly one made shot. The Lady Eagles edged a slight 3-0 lead heading into the second quarter after a late made three pointer by the Eagles. The second quarter did not bring much offensive efficiency either. The Lady Crusaders headed to the half down 9-8 after a two point buzzer beater by the Lady Eagles.

The second half featured a flurry of offensive production, however. At the end of the third quarter the game was tied at 20. With 1:05 left to play the Eagles made a basket to extend their lead to 32-28. The Crusaders did not find a way to convert in the closing seconds of the game which led to a 35-32 loss. Emily Benton led the Crusaders in scoring with 12 points. The Lady Crusaders loss to Fayetteville Academy dropped them to 15-3 (8-2) on the season. The Lady Crusaders take on Fayetteville Academy in the semifinals of the Coastal Rivers Conference tournament on Friday, February 13 at 5:30.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Both Varsity Teams Continue to Dominate in Conference Play with Win Over Coastal Christian

Varsity Men


The Varsity Men traveled to Wilmington on Tuesday, February 3 to take on Coastal Christian for the Centurion's final home game and senior night. The Centurions took advantage of a livid, excited crowd and jumped out to an early 15-9 lead heading into the second quarter. Coastal continued to roll in the early stages of the second quarter and extended their lead to 21-14 before a timeout with 5:47 left in the half. The Crusaders began to apply full court pressure out of the timeout which forced another Centurion timeout after the Crusaders cut the lead to 21-18 with 4:59 left to play in the half. The two teams continued to tug of war back and forth throughout the remainder of first half. The Crusaders headed into halftime with a slight 32-30 lead under the leadership of Marcus Scarborough with 9 points.

The Crusader exploded in the third quarter and deflated any hope of a Centurion victory. HCA outscored Coastal 25-5 in the third quarter and extended their lead to 57-35. The Crusaders did not let off the throttle in the fourth quarter which eventually propelled them to a 70-43 victory over the Centurions. HCA created a balanced scoring attack that featured 4 players in double figures. Senior, Spencer Cooke recorded a double double with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Quate Mckinzie also recorded a double double for the Crusaders with 14 points and 12 rebounds. CJ Kirchoff totaled 14 points and was quickly followed by Marcus Scarborough who registered 12 points for the Crusaders. With the Crusaders 27 point victory over Coastal they extended their current win streak to 10 games and improve to 15-3 (9-0) on the season. The Varsity Men will be back in action in their final regular season game of the season on Thursday, February 5 as they take on Fayetteville Academy for senior night. The Crusaders defeated Fayetteville Academy 66-43 in their last meeting.

Varsity Women

The Lady Crusaders rolled past the Centurions on their senior night. HCA exploded out to and early 12-6 lead with 3:16 left to play in the first quarter. Coastal fought back and cut the HCA lead to 12-11 at the end of the first quarter. Early in the second quarter Coastal tied the game at 12 before Emily Benton scored 6 straight points for the Crusaders to extend their lead to 18-12. Once again the Centurions battled back and cut the lead to 22-18 heading into the half. 

The Lady Crusaders began to pull away in the third quarter and rolled into the fourth quarter with a 36-22 lead. HCA did not slow down in the fourth quarter and eventually clinched a 51-36 victory over Coastal Christian. The Lady Crusaders dominated in the paint where they were led by Emily Benton who totaled 18 points and Mikaela Stroud who registered 16 points. With the Crusaders victory over Coastal they improved to 15-2 (8-1) on the season. The Lady Crusaders will be back in action for senior night as they take on Fayetteville Academy in their final regular season game of the season. HCA defeated the Lady Eagles 41-37 in triple overtime in the two teams previous meeting.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Both Varsity Basketball Teams Claim Regular Season Conference Title with Win over Fayetteville Christian

Varsity Men


The Varsity Men's Basketball team clinched the Cape Fear Rivers Conference Regular Season Title

on Friday, January 30 with a 74-49 victory over Fayetteville Christian. In front of a huge crowd at the Foundation Center on the campus of Harrells Christian Academy the Crusaders continued their dominance in conference play on their way to their first regular season conference title in years.

The two teams scrummed back and fourth in the early stages of the game which led to a slight 21-15 lead for the Crusaders at the end of the first quarter. The Crusaders stepped up their play in the second quarter which led to a 24-11 run by the Crusaders. After a strong scoring performance in the second quarter the Crusaders headed into the half with a 45-26 lead over the Warriors. Quate Mckinzie led the Crusaders in scoring in the first half with 12 points.

Fayetteville Christian tried to edge back into the game in the third quarter but the Crusaders halted the Warriors' run and cruised into the fourth quarter with a 56-42 lead. HCA continued to extend their lead in the fourth quarter and gained their largest lead of 28 points at the 3:28 mark in the fourth. The Crusaders went on to claim a 74-49 victory over the Warriors. The Crusaders balanced scoring attack featured 4 players scoring in double figures. Quate Mckinzie finished the game with 18 points, 10 rebounds, and 2 blocks. Mckinzie was quickly followed by Tyshii Scarborough who recorded 17 points, 7 assists, 4 rebounds, and 2 steals. Marcus Scarborough added 15 points to the Crusader scoring attack along with CJ Kirchoff who contributed 12 points and 8 rebounds. With the Crusaders 25 point victory they were named outright regular season conference champions. The Crusaders improved to 14-3 (8-0) with their victory in front of a packed house for HCA's 7th annual Pink Out Game. The Crusaders will be back in action on Tuesday, February 3 as they travel to Coastal Christian. HCA blew by the Centurions in their last matchup.

Varsity Women


The Varsity Lady Crusaders sought out revenge on the Warriors in their rematch. Fayetteville Christian squeaked by the Lady Crusaders in their last matchup but HCA got the best of the Warriors in their 44-39 victory on Friday, January 30. The two teams battled on the defensive end in a low scoring first quarter. The Lady Crusaders found a 8-4 lead heading into the second. HCA jumped out to a quick start in the second quarter. They gained a 20-12 lead before a timeout by the Warriors with 1:51 left before the half. The Lady Warriors fought back and cut the HCA lead to 22-17 heading into the half. Margaret Clark led the Crusaders in scoring at the half with 14 points.

The two teams struggled in the third quarter which led to a slight 28-25 Crusaders lead heading into the final quarter of play.  The Lady Crusaders found themselves leading 41-37 with 39 seconds to play after a pair of made free throws by Natalie Hardin. The Warriors then came down and forced a foul which resulted in two made free throws to cut the HCA lead to 41-39 with 34 seconds left to play. The Crusaders then missed the front end of a one and one but grabbed the rebound which led to two more free throws made by Natalie Hardin to extend the Crusader lead to 42-39 with 22.7 seconds left in the fourth. The Crusaders forced another turnover which led to two made free throws by Emily Benton to seal the 44-39 victory over the Warriors. Senior, Margaret Clark and sophomore, Emily Benton both finished the game with 16 points. Natalie Hardin also contributed 10 points to the Crusader scoring attack.  With the Lady Crusaders win they improved to 14-2 (7-1) on the season and claim a share of the regular season conference title. The Lady Crusaders hit the road on Tuesday, February 3 to take on Coastal Christian. HCA cruised by the Centurions in their last meeting.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Varsity Men Dominate, While Varsity Women Pull Out Triple Overtime Victory Over Fayetteville Academy

Varsity Men

The Varsity Men's basketball team traveled to Fayetteville on Tuesday, January 27 where they grabbed their 7th conference victory of the season with an easy 66-43 win over Fayetteville Academy. The two teams edged back and forth in the early stages of the game which led to an 18-15 lead for the Crusaders at the end of the first quarter. HCA began to implement pull court pressure which allowed the Crusaders to go on an 11-0 scoring run. The Eagles called a timeout with 3:54 left in the second quarter but they could only score two more points before the half. After the Crusaders' 20-2 run throughout the entirety of the second quarter HCA headed into the half with a 38-17 lead. Quate Mckinzie and Spencer Cooke both scored 10 points for the Crusaders in the first half which allowed the Crusaders to extend their lead in the second quarter.

The Crusaders continued to roll in the second half and led 57-31 at the end of the third quarter. HCA extended their lead to 30 points in the early stages of the fourth quarter but the Eagles fought back late in the game which led to a 66-43 victory for the Crusaders. Quate Mckinzie led the Crusaders in scoring with 20 points. Spencer Cooke contributed 10 points along with Marcus Scarborough with 8 points. HCA's 23 point victory improved the Crusaders to 13-3 (7-0) on the year. The Varsity Men will be back in action on Friday, January 30 in the Annual Pink Out Game at home against Fayetteville Christian School. If the Crusaders can come out with a victory they will claim the conference regular season title. The Crusaders defeated the Warriors 72-52 earlier in the season.

Varsity Women

The Varsity Women found themselves in a back and forth affair throughout the entire game. The two teams struggled to find the basket in the first quarter and found themselves in a 5-5 deadlock at the end of the first quarter. The two teams began to crank it up at the offensive end in the second quarter. After 8 points by Emily Benton and 7 points by Margaret Clark the Crusaders headed into the half with a 15-12 lead.

The Crusaders maintained their three point lead throughout the third quarter and headed into the fourth with a 24-21 advantage. The Lady Crusaders made another bucket to extend their lead to 26-21 with 4:42 left to play in regulation. The Eagles edged back into the game and cut the HCA lead to 26 -25 which led to a timeout by the Crusaders with 1:53 left in the fourth quarter. The Eagles then made a free throw to tie the game at 26. Neither team could convert in the final seconds of the fourth quarter forcing overtime.

In overtime the Eagles hit a three pointer to extend their lead to 29-26 with 1:29 left to play. The Lady Crusaders came down on the next possession and scored a quick bucket to cut the Eagle lead to 29-28. HCA then came up with a steal which led to a foul that sent Natalie Hardin to the free throw line. Hardin made one of two free throws to tie the game at 29 with 37 seconds left in overtime. The Eagles could not get a shot off in the final seconds overtime which led to the game's second overtime.

Heading into double overtime the Eagles made an early basket to extend their lead to 31-29. The Eagles then sank two free throws to extend their lead to 4 points, 33-29. Mikaela Stroud was then fouled for the Crusaders which sent her to the line for two shots. Stroud made both free throws to cut the Eagle lead to 33-31 with 15 seconds left to play. On the next Eagle possession, Rylie Evans stole the ball and rushed down the court to make a layup which sent the game into triple overtime.

Heading into triple overtime with the game tied at 33, the two teams continued to battle back and fourth. Marissa Parks made a layup for the Crusaders that was quickly followed by a Fayetteville Academy basket which tied the game at 35 with 3:00 minutes left to play in triple overtime. Marissa Parks then came up with another basket for the Crusaders to extend the Crusader lead to 37-35 with 1:40 left to play. After three made free throws for the Lady Crusaders, which extended their lead to 40-35, the Eagles answered with a basket to cut the lead back to 40-37 with 42.8 seconds left to play. The Eagles forced a Crusader turnover but could not make a three point shot to tie the game. Emily Benton then made one free throw at the line to seal a 41-37 triple overtime victory over the Fayetteville Academy Lady Eagles. HCA's long, fought out victory improved the Lady Crusaders to 13-2 (6-1) on the season. The Lady Crusaders will vie for the regular season conference championship on Friday, January 30 as they take on Fayetteville Christian at home in the Crusaders' Annual Pink Out Game. HCA came up short against the Warriors in their last meeting where they lost 46-42.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Varsity Men and Women Blow Past Hurricanes

The Varsity Men's basketball team traveled to Wilmington on Friday, January 23 to take on Cape Fear
Academy. In front of a full house for the Hurricanes' homecoming night the Crusaders remained undefeated in conference play. The Canes did not let HCA run them out of the gym like their last 65-48 loss to the Crusaders. The two teams fought back and forth in the opening minutes of the game which led to a 10-7 Crusader lead at the end of the first quarter. The Crusaders tried to pull away multiple times in the second quarter but were halted to an 8 point 28-20 lead at the half. Tyshii Scarborough, who missed Wednesday night's game against Coastal Christian due to flu like symptoms, provided a scoring spark for the Crusaders in the first half with 10 points.

The two teams continued to fight back and fourth throughout the third quarter. The Hurricanes were on fire from three point range by answering the Crusaders every time they tried to make a run. HCA however, maintained an 8 point, 36-28 lead heading into the fourth quarter. The Hurricanes created a run of their own late in the fourth quarter. Cape Fear nailed a three pointer to cut the Crusader lead to   44-39 with under two minutes to play. The Crusaders then forced a turnover which led to a pair of made free throws by HCA junior Quate Mckinzie to extend the Crusader lead to 46-39 with 56.8 seconds left to play. HCA then came up with yet another steal which would eventually lead to a 48-41 victory over the Hurricanes after two late free throws by the Scarborough brothers. The Crusaders season low 48 points was 17 points under their season points per game average. Despite the scoring struggles the Crusaders created a low scoring balanced attack which resulted in three players scoring in double figures. Quate Mckinzie finished the game with 13 points and 7 rebounds. Mckinzie was quickly followed by Tyshii Scarborough who registered 11 points for the Crusaders. Tyshii's brother Marcus made his mark on the game as well with 10 points and 9 rebounds.  A major setback for the Crusaders was their second leading scorer on the season, CJ Kirchoff finished the game with only 1 point. The Varsity Men hope to continue their undefeated conference on Tuesday, January 27 as they travel to Fayetteville to take on conference opponent Fayetteville Academy.

The Varsity Lady Crusaders took down the Hurricanes 50-36 in a physical battle on the court. HCA jumped out to a quick start and headed into the second quarter with a 19-8 lead. The Hurricanes created a counter attack and cut the Crusader lead to 21-18 with under a minute to play in the second quarter. Margaret Clark however, answered with a half court buzzer beater to extend the Crusader lead to 24-18 heading into the half.

Edging back and fourth in the third quarter, the Crusaders continued to push and maintained a 36-30 lead heading into the fourth quarter. Led by strength at the defensive end of the court, the Crusaders were able to extend their lead and close out a 50-36 victory over Cape Fear Academy. The Lady Crusaders were led by Margaret Clark who recorded a double double with 15 points and 10 steals. With the Crusaders 14 point victory over the Hurricanes, HCA improves to 12-2 (5-1) on the season. The Lady Crusaders will be back in action on Tuesday, January 27 as they hit the road to take on conference opponent Fayetteville Academy.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Varsity Men and Women Cruise Past Coastal Christian

The Varsity Men's basketball team continued to dominate in conference play by defeating Coastal Christian 68-54 on Wednesday, January 21. The Crusaders entered the game without their starting point guard Tyshii Scarborough who was absent due to sickness. Scarborough averages 6.6 points per game and an astonishing 6.2 assists per game. The Crusaders did not let the absence of Scarborough affect them, however.

The Crusaders jumped out to an early lead and headed into the second quarter with a 29-14 lead. HCA made an effort to feed, sharpshooter, CJ Kirchoff the ball which resulted in 15 early points for the Crusaders heading into the half. Quate Mckinzie also tallied 10 points in contribution to a 40-26 Crusader lead at the half.

The Crusaders continued to put their foot on the gas and extended their lead to 28 at one point in the second half. After an exhilarating first half Cj Kirchoff cooled off and did not find the basket in the second half which allowed the Centurions to battle back and eventually cut the lead to 14. Coastal Christian's counter attack however was not enough which led to a 68-54 Crusader victory over the Centurions. With the Crusaders 14 point victory they improve to 11-3 (5-0) on the season. Quate Mckinzie led the Crusaders on the stat sheet in multiple categories where he recorded 19 points and 16 rebounds. The junior big man shot 89% from the field by only missing one shot throughout the entire game. CJ Kirchoff also recorded 15 points after a great shooting performance in the first half. Marcus Scarborough filled the shoes of his sick brother, Tyshii, by dropping 9 points as well as dishing out 9 assists. Spencer Cooke was one point shy of a double double by recording 9 points and 10 rebounds. The Crusaders will be back in action on Friday, January 23 as they travel to Wilmington to take on Cape Fear Academy. The Varsity Men defeated the Hurricanes 65-48 earlier in the season.

The Varsity Women continued to claim their stake as one of the top teams in the conference with a 49-39 victory over Coastal Christian on Wednesday, January 21. HCA Varsity Women's basketball head coach, Wayne Cannady preached to his team before the game to be aware of Coastal Christian having a strong start. The coaches' prediction was right on target as the Centurions jumped out to an early lead and found themselves leading by 10 points in the second quarter. The Crusaders however, battled back with multiple stops and three point shots to tie the game at 21 heading into the half.

The Crusaders built on their late momentum from the first half to extend their lead to 39-28 at the end the third quarter. The Centurions could not find a way to bounce back in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter which led to a 49-39 victory for the Lady Crusaders. HCA improves to 11-2 (4-1) on the season with their convincing victory over Coastal Christian. The Lady Crusaders will be back in action on Friday, January 23 as they hit the road to take on Cape Fear Academy. The Crusaders edged a narrow 47-46 victory over the Hurricanes in their last matchup as the two teams battled back and forth throughout the entire game.

Varsity Men Cruise by Fayetteville Christian, Varsity Women Come Up Short in Closing Seconds

Junior center, Quate Mckinzie rises above
the rim for a slam
The Harrells Christian Academy Varsity men's basketball team traveled to Fayetteville on Friday, January 16 to take on Fayetteville Christian School. The Crusaders did not disappoint against arguably, the best competition in their conference. HCA jumped out to an early 18-12 lead at the end of the first quarter. Star center Quate Mckinzie, who averages 17 points per game for the
Crusaders, found himself in early foul trouble forcing the Crusaders to look for other scoring options. Junior forward, CJ Kirchoff stepped up in the midst of the second quarter and drained multiple three pointers and headed into the half with 15 points in contribution to a 43-31 Crusader lead.

The Warriors could not halt a scoring run by the Crusaders with allowed the Crusaders to extend their lead to 20 points. Quate Mckinzie made his presence felt in the second half and finished with 15 points in route to a 72-52 victory over Fayetteville Christian. CJ Kirchoff led the Crusaders in scoring with 21 points. Marcus Scarborough quickly followed with 17 points. Scarborough made all 10 of his free throws throughout the course of the game. Sophomore Tyshii Scarborough dished out 10 assists to go along with scoring 8 points. HCA was active on the defensive end forcing 27 turnovers and 18 steals. The Crusaders improve to 10-3 (4-0) on the season with their statement 20 point victory over the Warriors. The Varsity Men will be back in action on Wednesday, January 21 at home against Coastal Christian High School and on Friday, January 23 at Cape Fear Academy.

The Varsity Women battled back and fourth the entire game with the Lady Warriors. Fayetteville Christian jumped out to an early start against the Lady Crusaders and edged a 13-6 lead at the end of the first quarter. The Crusaders battled back in the second quarter led by a balance scoring attack and headed into half trailing by only 3 points, 23-20.

The Crusaders continued to fight and gained their first lead of the game, 33-32, with 2:17 left to play in the third quarter. The Lady Crusaders were not able to keep their lead for long as the Warriors answered right back and headed into the fourth quarter with a 35-33 lead. The Warriors maintained their lead for a majority of the fourth quarter. HCA guard, Margaret Clark, drained a three pointer with 12 seconds left to play to cut the Warrior lead to 45-42 however, the Crusaders could not execute in the closing seconds of the fourth quarter. The Crusaders found themselves in foul trouble the entire game. Fayetteville Christian shot 43 free throws compared to only 10 attempts by the Crusaders. The lack of attempts at the free throw line will often lead to a loss, as illustrated in the Lady Crusaders' second loss of the season against the Warriors. HCA falls to 10-2 (3-1) on the season with their narrow loss against Fayetteville Christian. The Lady Crusaders will be back in action on Wednesday, January 21 at home against Coastal Christian and on Friday, January January 23 at Cape Fear Academy.