|The Varsity Men's Basketball team celebrates with fans after the game.|
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.