In a season where every game has felt like a make or break contest, Friday night’s matchup between St. Mary’s and North Valley was no different. The Crusaders were beginning a grind of five games in eight days as they hosted the Knights. Both teams made it clear in the first quarter that they knew what was on the line as they traded licks back and forth on both ends of the court. If one team hit a shot the other immediately responded. Each player seemed locked in, and St. Mary’s guard, Noah Friesen, continued his recent hot shooting streak. He dropped ten points in the quarter, keeping his team close, as North Valley closed the first with a narrow 23-22 lead.

Both teams began the second quarter with a quick pace, and they once again traded point for point. The Knights installed a full court press, but the Crusaders were too quick with the ball and easily broke it most possessions. Nolan Hensman was a big spark off the bench for St. Mary’s, scoring 6 points and delivering several no-look assists to his teammates. Both units were running and playing tough defense, and the first half ended with St. Mary’s with a one point 36-35 lead.

The Crusaders came out the second half playing smart and patient with the ball, not settling for any rushed shots. They also picked up the defensive intensity with senior Kayden Walker getting four steals in the third to complement his steady offensive attack. St. Mary’s also worked to control the boards, with Chris Kranenburg, TJ Flowers, Jaden Foster, and Kent David all making significant rebounding contributions. The Crusaders played with confidence and slowly increased their slim lead, ending the quarter up 53-50.

The fourth quarter was set for a fight to the finish, and you could slice the tension in the gym. The Knights never panicked and found themselves with their first lead lead of the second half with just under four minutes to go. St. Mary’s also showed poise and after a strategic timeout by head coach Kyle Walker they managed to take back the lead and take control of the game. As the clock continued to tick away, North Valley was forced to foul, and St. Mary’s capitalized, with Noah Friesen hitting eight free throws down the stretch. The Knights fought to the finish, but their hopes were finally dashed when a possible breakaway layup for them was swatted away by Jaden Foster. The Crusaders ultimately pulled out a hard earned win, outscoring their opponents 73-66, and keeping St. Mary’s in the post season picture.

“That was a huge game and huge win for us. It was a great game to watch,” said Coach Walker, adding, “When we get to the end of the game, I have confidence in our players to make free throws. We were able to work the clock to our advantage down the stretch and made 100% of our free throws. Great effort all around.”

St. Mary’s Scoring:
Kent David- 6
Noah Friesen- 25
Nolan Hensman- 8
Chris Kranenburg- 2
Jaden Foster- 6
Kayden Walker- 18
Tyson Delplanche- 4
Heemir Patel- 4

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Brian Pannell


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