The Crusaders (11-6 overall, 3-1 GISA Region 4-AA) extended their win streak to four and their home record to 7-1 on a well-rounded night that included four players in double-digit points and a season high 42 percent from behind the arc.
Griffin Christian held a loose lead in the early minutes of the first, but a big three by leading scorer Jonathan Hammond (17.2 ppg) was a turning point for the Crusaders to try and break away. Play started to improve, and before long, Griffin Christian was pulling five and 10-point streaks, ultimately increasing their lead over the Wildcats (6-9, 1-4) to 53-26 heading into halftime.
The Crusaders slowed down in the third, but still kept a comfortable 30-point advantage throughout.
One of the more downbeat moments of the game happened when Savage took a hard foul under the hoop that sent him falling to his back with 2:52 left before the fourth. Even though the play looked rough, he got up and went to the free throw line, showing no signs of slowing down.
When the second unit came out in the fourth, Griffin Christian seemed to play even better. With around two minutes left in the shortened period, sophomore CJ Lewis drove to the rim and banked a layup, stole the ensuing inbounds pass, and went back up again for four easy points. Crowd favorite Micah Mitchell drained a wide open three 30 seconds later. Brandon Duncan scored with :15 to go, and got the ball again to put the final points up with a buzzer beater.
Aqil Gilani drove hard to the hoop on several occasions, which not only helped him get 11 points on 5-6 shooting, but created opportunities for Griffin Christian to further develop its outside presence.
On a night when its shooters were noticeably hot, this was key in controlling the momentum of the game.
See Crusaders/Page A11
Guards Aaron McCray and Amir Hightower combined for 17 points and 16 assists, while the whole team accumulated only 11 turnovers, an example of the Crusaders’ effort to play smarter, more efficient basketball. The top performers from Griffin Christian were: McCray with 13 points, 7 assists, and 3 steals; Hightower with 4, 9, and 4; Hammond with 10 points and 4 steals; and Taylor Dunn with 6 points and 3 rebounds.
The Crusaders played non-region opponent Mount de Sales Academy at home Saturday in a late game and will play GISA Region 4-AA opponent Piedmont Academy at home 7:30 p.m., Monday.