Crusaders Defeat Falcons
Missed free throws may have proved to be the difference for the O’Neal boys’ basketball team in a tight battle with visiting Grace Christian Tuesday.
The Crusaders topped the Falcons (1-1) 40-36 in the nonconference game. Though O’Neal and Grace Christian traded leads throughout the game, the Falcons fell behind by six points in the fourth quarter after a 7-0 Crusader run. O’Neal cut the lead to two points with about 18 seconds to go, but the boys were unable to get over the hump.
O’Neal was just 12 of 24 from the charity stripe on the evening.
“In a two-point game with 18 seconds to play, that makes a huge difference,” head coach David Graves said. “You hit half of those, they’re fouling us at the end instead of the other way around.”
Graves said his team looked a little rattled to start the game, but thought it recovered nicely.
Scoring was more balanced for O’Neal this time around. Sophomore Jacob Talbert — who went off for 29 points in the season opener last week — had another strong performance, scoring 13 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Senior Charlie Johnson had a solid game in the post, scoring eight. Fellow seniors Stephen Chamberlain and Colin Jameson added six points each.
Elijah Buie powered the Grace Christian offense with 23 points, 17 of which came in the first half.
Graves thought his team did a good job defensively, forcing Buie to work hard for his points. He was relatively quiet in the second half, scoring his team’s first two buckets of the third quarter. His last basket didn’t come until 3:05 to go in the game.
The Crusaders opened the game with a 7-1 advantage, but O’neal fought back to tie the game at 13 early in the second quarter. The Falcons led by as much as three before taking a 22-21 lead into the half.
Grace Christian was able to open a six point lead in third quarter. But a John Roger Moore free throw and four points from Talbert cut that lead to one (30-29) heading into the final frame.
The two teams swapped leads in the first three minutes of the quarter before the Crusaders’ final run.
Graves added that the team needs to work on its ball-handling a little bit, as it had difficulty with Grace Christian’s half-court trap in the beginning of the game.
O’Neal gets another crack at the Crusaders tonight in the first round of the 2010 Sanford Shootout.
“It was an intense game, everybody played hard,” Graves said, “and I’m really looking forward to going back at these guys on Friday.”
Girls Fall, Too
The O’Neal girls lost to Grace Christian 36-22 Tuesday.
Senior Maura Thornton led the Lady Falcons (0-2) with eight points. Maeve Bartiss had six, and four players — Virginia Woollens, Katherine Wooddell, Mary Winston Dozer and Mary Dixon — had two points.
“They played hard the whole time, especially in the last two minutes, which is really difficult when you’re down by 10 or 12,” Thornton said of her teammates. “So that was really great. We’ve got a team with a lot of heart this year and these girls are just doing a really good job.”
All six of Bartiss’ points came in the first quarter, as she helped her team to a 6-0 lead early. But Grace Christian responded with a 14-0 run.
The Lady Falcons trailed 14-8 at the half.
O’Neal caught its opponent in the third quarter, knotting the game at 14. It matched Grace Christian at 10 points in the quarter and trailed 24-18 going into the fourth.
But the Lady Crusaders outscored 12-4 in the fourth quarter to put the game out of reach.
Randi Kerr led the visitors with 15 points.
Like the O’Neal boys, the Lady Falcons will face Grace Christian again tonight in the Sanford Shootout.
“We need to shoot more,” Thornton said when asked what the team needs to work on to improve. “Shoot more and box out so we can get those extra shots.”
Contact John Krahnert III at email@example.com.
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