|Crusaders win state championship|
|Saturday, February 25, 2012|
SPRINGFIELD — Down by nine at the half, Hendersonville Christian Academy put on a defensive clinic in the final two quarters. The Crusaders captured their second straight TAACS state championship in the process.
HCA scored a 49-40 victory over Lighthouse Christian School during Saturday’s title game at South Haven Christian School, holding LCS to eight points in the second half.
“We knew the name of the game tonight was going to be on defense,” HCA’s first-year coach John Taylor said. “In the first half, we came out and lost our man a few times and didn’t communicate with each other. We didn’t seem like we were on the same page. We lost some key shooters and they drilled it and made us pay.”
One shot LCS drilled was a 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer that came after HCA could not convert on what it hoped would be the final possession of the second quarter. Instead, the Lions hit the 3 and went into the break up 32-23.
HCA leaned on its four seniors to bring home another title.
Ethan Fields, Devin Humphress, Mack Keller and Zac Musgrave — the seniors — all earned All-Tournament team honors and led the Crusaders in scoring in the victory.
Fields, the school’s all-time scoring leader, was named tournament MVP. He and Humphress, who have both attended the school since kindergarten, led the Crusaders (23-3) with 12 points apiece. Fields added 11 rebounds and hit on 6-of-7 free throws. Mugrave added nine points and Keller had seven.
Fields and Humphress each had eight of their 12 points in the second half as HCA bounced back from the 32-23 halftime deficit to tie the game at 36 going into the final eight minutes.
“In the second half we adjusted, picked (LCS) up out a little higher on the floor,” Taylor said of defending the Lions’ shooter just beyond the 3-point line where they hit six on the night. “Our intensity picked up, we communicated better and the defensive effort was fantastic.
“That was a major accomplishment for us to make a defensive stand like that. The boys knew what they had to be willing to do whatever it takes and that’s what we needed at the time.”
It is the fourth time the Crusaders defeated Lighthouse this season. The first came on two free throws with 2.6 seconds left to score a 44-42 victory. HCA won the other two meetings 51-36 and 54-45 — the latter being in the region final.
“The state championship is great and it feels great to do it the way we did,” Taylor said. “That’s an accomplishment and says a lot about the determination of our guys. To be able to hold a team as quick and talented as Lighthouse to eight points, I think we overachieved even for the talent we had.”
— Corby A. Yarbrough, Sports Editor