The Central Crusaders jumped out to a double-digit lead and then held off the visiting Unity Rams’ fourth-quarter rally en route to a 64-57 victory Friday night.
Central led 52-39 heading into the fourth quarter and despite a scoring drought came up with enough offense down the stretch to preserve the victory.
Central head coach Michael Morge was happy with his team’s mental toughness in the final period.
“We had some games earlier this year where we jumped out on our opponents early but when they made a run we haven’t been as mentally tough and closed out the game,” Morge said. “Tonight when they battled back against us, we were able to finish.”
With the victory, Central guaranteed itself at least a second-place finish in the region standings.
Antwan Ferrell had the hot hand for the Crusaders finishing with 30 points. Jordan Brown chipped in 15 points.
Unity went on a 17-3 run in the fourth quarter and tied the game at 56-all on a 3-pointer with 1:01 left in the contest.
Two technical fouls in the fourth quarter by Unity proved the difference in the game as the Crusaders closed out the contest on an 8-1 run.
Ferrell came through with clutch free throw shooting, hitting six of six to push the Crusaders into the lead for good.
“The game got physical and very tough and we were able to keep our composure. Kudos to the ref for keeping things under control,” Morge said.
Central took control of the game early, building a 3-0 lead to open the scoring on Brown’s 3-point shot.
Zach Obi converted a 3-point shot in the first quarter to give the Crusaders a 12-10 lead and from there, Central went on a 8-2 run to close out the period.
Ferrell knocked down a 3-point shot to open the second quarter for the Crusaders and push the score to 23-12.
The Rams fought back and briefly seized the momentum in the second quarter after draining two 3-point shots.
Their second trey of the night cut the lead to 31-29.
Central outscored the Rams 5-1 to close out the first half to take a 36-31 lead.
The Crusaders outscored Unity 16-8 in the third quarter.
Ferrell and Khristan Zachary each converted a three-point play in the third quarter to pace the Crusaders offense.
After Ferrell’s basket gave Central a 54-43 lead, the Crusaders hit a dry spell that spanned several minutes.
Unity took advantage of the Crusaders’ offensive drought putting together a 13-2 spurt to tie the game on it’s 3-point shot.