The Challengers came out in a fast paced, full court press on defense which made baskets hard to come by for Vale. They also had hot shooting hands on offense and jumped out to a quick start, taking an immediate 5-0 lead. They played an incredibly well balanced and strong quarter led by there formidable senior backcourt duo of Noah Friesen and Kayden Walker, who scored 16 of their team’s 19 points. The quarter ended with St. Mary’s up, 19-10.
With a few minor adjustments to start the second quarter, the Vikings seemed to settle in and began what looked to be a comeback run. However, Crusader defensive specialist Tyson Delplanche, in his typical hard nosed style, drew a charge to stop a basket from counting, putting the energy and momentum back in his teams’ hands. The half time horn saw the visitors holding on to a 29-22 lead.
The second half picked right up where the first left off with both squads coming out with determination, energy, and focus. St. Mary’s struggled to maintain possession in the third, giving the ball away 6 times, enabling the Vikings to cut into the Crusader lead. With two minutes left in the quarter, the Vikings took their first lead of the contest when a short range jumper put them up 35-34. St. Mary’s called a timeout and head coach Kyle Walker settled his team, who came out of the timeout ready to regain the lead. They ramped up their defensive intensity as both teams traded baskets, and the third ended with St. Mary’s down 40-38.
The final quarter was a veritable chess match as both teams gave everything they had. Despite a boisterous and supportive crowd, St. Mary’s blocked out the noise and continued to fight and refused to panic. With five minutes to go, the Crusaders finally regained the lead, going up 45-44 and they never looked back. As the clock continued to tick away the Vikings were forced to start fouling. The Crusaders worked hard to ensure the ball was in the hands of their best free throw shooters and Kayden Walker hit 4 of 4 shots at the charity stripe. When the game ended, St. Mary’s was the victor with a 54-46 victory. Next up for the Crusaders is another road trip on Saturday to take on the 4th seed Banks Brave.
St. Mary’s Scoring
Kent David- 2
Noah Friesen- 26
TJ Flowers- 5
Jaden Foster- 1