Lady Crusaders finish perfect in CCC
Grace Christian's girls basketball team completed a perfect 13-0 run through the Carolina Christian Conference regular season with a 56-30 victory over Wayne Christian Tuesday evening.
The Lady Crusaders rolled past Wayne Christian, as the Lady Eagles had only five players ready for their varsity squad, to seal up first place in the CCC all alone. Wayne Christian battled the Lady Crusaders well in stretches. When Grace turned up its defensive pressure, though, they took control and ran out to a big lead.
While taking care of Wayne Christian gave the Lady Crusaders the undefeated CCC season, Grace Christian's win the previous night, a 46-44 win over Hickory Christian, could prove more valuable heading into the CCC and NCISAA State tournaments.
Monday night, the Lady Crusaders trailed by 15 late in the third quarter and a 23-9 advantage in the fourth quarter, finished by Brooke Strickland's go-ahead lay-up with 0:17 left, gave Grace its closest win, by a wide margin, in a long time, certainly within what's an eight-game winning streak now for the Lady Crusaders.
After Wayne Christian got the opening bucket, Grace rolled off the next 12 points. Crusader trapping led to bunches of turnovers, especially steals by Strickland and Alexis Ross, and Strickland scored eight of the first 12 Grace points. The Lady Crusaders kept going to a 20-6 lead after one period.
Adding to the fast-break scoring, the Lady Crusaders connected from beyond the arc in the opening half. Payton Winchell hit two three-pointers and Anna Murr, Ross and Lexi Carver made one each. Grace led 40-15 at halftime.
Wayne Christian won the third period 9-4 but a 20-point Lady Crusader lead was the smallest margin in the second half.
Strickland led the Lady Crusaders (24-3 overall) with 21 points, eight steals, six rebounds and three assists.
Murr scored 13 points and had four assists. Winchell had eight points and six boards. Ross had six points, nine rebounds, six assists and six steals.
Brooke Barfield led the Lady Eagles with 14 points and seven rebounds. Kelsey Kornegay had nine points and 11 rebounds. Katie Isenhower had 11 rebounds, six steals and five assists.
Grace Christian 83, Wayne Christian 49
The Crusaders (18-9, 9-4) outraced the visitors for most of the night and freshman guard Zach Boggs poured in 40 points as Grace's boys' squad also finished its CCC slate with a victory.
Feasting on fast-break buckets, the Crusaders jumped out to a 16-4 lead in the first 4:46 of play. Boggs had eight of the first 16 points.
The Crusader run-and-gun occasionally went too fast, but overall, Grace Christian created a 33-18 turnover advantage for the game, an advantage which led to plenty of breakaway lay-ups. Even when Wayne Christian scored, the Crusaders frequently pushed the ball 94 feet to the opposite goal before the Eagles could defend it.
Boggs made four three-pointers as part of scoring 40. He added eight rebounds and five steals.
Mark Riches, often the key to the Crusader defense, totaled 18 points, seven rebounds, six assists and five steals. B.J. Harrison had eight points, 13 rebounds and five assists. Robert Fulton and Isaac Kruger scored six points each. Nolan Shoemake had five points.
Grace Christian plays its regular-season finale Friday hosting St. Thomas More with the girls' varsity game set for 5:30 p.m.