By Jeremy Mcdonald
TURNER, Ore.– Their loss to Country Christian at the Crusader Classic on New Year’s Eve has really fired up the Crosshill Christian boys squad.
Since their 61-52 defeat to the Cougars, the Eagles have wheeled off five-straight wins following their 69-9 Casco League win over Jewell Wednesday night to push the teams overall record to 11-2 and 6-0 in league play.
“It taught us how to play better. When we weren’t hitting our shots like in that game, we got to focus up. It was a tough loss and I don’t think we want to lose like that ever again, so we’re going to play harder the rest of the time this season and not to lose in that way,” Ben Hemelstrand said.
Against the Blue Jays Wednesday, Crosshill turned to their strength in defense to set the tone. Creating stops via turnovers, winning the turnover battle and making the shot selection extremely difficult for Jewell to get into a groove as the Eagles held the Blue Jays scoreless through the first quarter until Jewell’s Jackson Gruschke hit a halfcourt shot to break the then 20-0 run the Eagles were on to start the game. Gruschke led the squad with three points.
Crosshill’s defense had allowed three, four and two points respectively in the opening three quarters of the game before shutting out the Blue Jays in the fourth quarter as the Eagles worked through their offensive sets in preparation for Siletz Valley Saturday afternoon.
“We like to focus on defense a lot in practices and in the locker room. Defense leads to offense and that’s been our main focus,” Landon Knox said. “We were talking about working through our sets, moving through and doing the right stuff. These are the type of games that you build your offense to get ready for bigger games. (Slietz) is going to be a good team, they got six-nine and six-seven, so we got to be prepared for them in practice and come in really focused and use the stuff we’ve applied in these games.”
Knox had a game-high 19 points and Hemelstrand contributed another ten as a good chunk of Crosshill Christian’s bench saw some minutes in the win as they prepare for the second half of their regular season and hopefully a push for the 1A postseason next month.
For now, it’s preparing for the Warriors Saturday for a 230pm game. Jewell host C.S. Lewis/Veritas Friday for a Casco League matchup with the Watchmen.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald