The Crusaders, coming off a state finals appearance in GISA Class AAA last season, picked up where they left off last year, beating Weber to go 1-0 just like they did at the start of the 2011-12 season.
The Crusaders — sporting new uniforms this season — jumped on Weber (0-1) early, putting the defensive pressure on the Rams in the second quarter and making shots to take a 20-8 lead. But instead of going on a huge run to blow Weber out, the Crusaders missed shots — including several layups — and Weber went on a 10-3 run to cut GC’s lead to 23-18 at halftime.
Weber then cut it to 23-22 at the start of the third quarter as the Crusaders seemed stuck in the mud offensively and defensively. Crusaders head coach Mic Savage called a timeout and that seemed to spark the team.
Hammond, a junior, sank a 3-pointer to give GC the 26-22 lead and the Crusaders increased their defensive intensity. When the smoke cleared, GC led 38-27 heading into the final stanza. Hammond scored 10 of the team’s 15 points in the third.
While the rest of the Crusaders had trouble making shots, Hammond remained hot. After his teammate David Thomas sank a free throw to make the score 39-27 at the start the fourth quarter, Hammond scored GC’s next eight points. Included in his run was a 3-point play that was set up by a beautiful home run pass from teammate Wil Savage.
The Rams then missed several shots in the final quarter allowing GC to take control and win the game, despite the Crusaders’ rough shooting night. GC missed 19 shots in the contest.
“There was a few minutes tonight when we looked hard to beat but there was also a few minutes when it looked like we have a long way to go,” said coach Savage. “We’ve got to work on our chemistry and rotations. We’ve also got to get better at finishing around the rim, but I’m glad we got the win.”
Hammond was 2 of 3 from the 3-point arc and had 6 steals to go with his 30 points. Wil Savage and Thomas were the next highest GC scorers with 5 points each, with Wil getting a team-high 11 rebounds and 7 assists. Hunter Ott tallied 6 rebounds for the Crusaders, who won’t be back in action until Nov. 26 at Grace Baptist.