Crusaders take 2nd at NACA national tourney
Grace Christian completed its girls basketball season winning three of four games and finishing runner-up at the National Association of Christian Athletes National Championship last week in Tennessee.
The trip included three tight victories to get to the championship game, then a mix of individual accolades and heartbreak as Lady Crusader senior Anna Murr earned Most Valuable Offensive Player of the tournament and senior teammate Karinda Farrant suffered a torn ACL less than a minute into the championship game.
Hamilton Heights, of Chattanooga, Tenn., topped the Lady Crusaders 59-41 in the final.
Farrant, Grace’s primary point guard all year who often led the team in rebounds, steals, assists and blocks, went down injured 0:53 into the final game.
“I knew we were in trouble then but the girls fought hard to be down only one at the half,” said Grace Christian head coach Joel Murr.
“(Farrant) tried to go in the second half but could hardly get up and down the court. She is a fierce competitor who loves to play the game,” he said.
Anna Murr scored a game-high 22 points in the final, making 11 of 12 free throws and three three-pointers. She also grabbed eight rebounds. Alexis Ross had 14 points, five assists and three steals.
Murr, Farrant and Ross made the all-tournament team.
The Lady Crusaders started their tournament with a 53-50 win over Virginia’s Three Point Line Academy. Grace Christian edged the same squad in last year’s NACA tournament.
Ross and Farrant scored 18 points each while Murr added 16 points. Ross hit four three-pointers during a key stretch of the third quarter to keep the Lady Crusaders in the game.
“Alexis has gotten so much better this year,” said coach Murr. “She carried us in this game in the second half.”
Grace Christian beat Potters House, of Orlando, Fla., 61-55 in the second pool game. The Lady Crusader win avenged a loss to Potters House from last year.
Ross, a sophomore, led all scorers with 22 points. Murr had 17 points, six steals and five assists. Farrant had 16 points, 11 rebounds and six steals. Lexi Carver added six points.
Grace Christian kept rolling with a 45-39 win over Riverdale, from Maryland. Ross led Grace with 20 points and three steals. Murr scored 16 points to go with seven rebounds, five steals and four assists. Farrant had seven points and 13 rebounds.
“I have enjoyed every minute of my time here at Grace,” said Farrant, who is an Australian exchange student spending the year at Grace Christian.
“We gave it all we had every game. Getting hurt in the championship game...was the worst thing that has ever happened to me in basketball but our team never gave up. I am so proud to be a Lady Crusader,” she said.
The Lady Crusaders end the season with a 29-4 overall record, making for a 61-10 record in the last two seasons.
“This has been a special group of girls from the first practice we had,” coach Murr said. “They get along so well and have worked so hard. I couldn’t be any more proud of them.
Emily Ames started every game in this, her senior, season. She’s going to Liberty University on an academic scholarship.
“It was such a privilege to play basketball for this school and for coach Murr. Every game was close in the tournament so it was very intense. It was sad to lose and even sadder to play in our last game in high school. I have had so much fun representing the Lord, my family and Grace Christian School,” Ames said.
“The season came down to a few possessions in the state tournament, and now the national tournament. We came up on the short end of both, but these girls got us here and that says a lot.”