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The 2019-20 season opener for the Wilson Christian Academy varsity boys basketball team proved an eye-opening experience in the form of a 75-37 loss to visiting Grace Christian of Sanford on Tuesday night.
That’s the bad news.
The good news is that the Chargers of second-year head coach Kevin Zander will not see Grace Christian again this season. Zander described the Crusaders as the biggest team Wilson Christian will face the entire season and one of the strongest.
“They beat us by 40 points last year,” Zander noted, “and they were big. This year, they are big and quick. They are definitely one of the strongest teams we will see. They have the full package.”
Grace Christian, feeding off WCA turnovers, stuffed in the first 13 points before the Chargers connected on a layup with nearly three minutes elapsed. Junior Gavin Brewer’s putback at the buzzer staked the Crusaders to a 21-4 lead after one quarter.
Grace opened the second quarter with a 9-0 spree before WCA junior Alex Horrell buried a 3-point shot. The Crusaders started the second half with a 16-2 tear.
The cushion reached 40 points (65-25) and the clock ran continuously there after as Grace sophomore Janah Murr drained a 3-point shot with 5 minutes, 20 seconds remaining.
“He is a great coach,” Grace head coach Jesse Wilson said of Zander, “and every year, his team gets better. But our size and speed at the defensive end was too much.
“We are still rusty but getting there. We are trying to polish up some things. We have a really strong conference and we are looking to play to our top potential when we get into the conference.
The Crusaders play in the North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association 1-A ranks and, last season, posted 22 wins and reached the third round of the playoffs. Grace is off to a 2-0 start this season.
Leading the Crusaders was 6-foot-3 senior Murr with 28 points; 6-8 senior Allan Taylor with 13 points and 12 rebounds; 6-2 senior Phillip Martin with 17 points and 6-3 senior Jaylen McKay with 10 rebounds.
The Chargers, who struggled to get shots against Grace’s 1-3-1 zone, got spark from their reserves in the second half.
“The bench gave us a spark to show the starters what they were lacking in intensity. If they weren’t scared, they were not showing the intensity needed.
Senior Deston Melvin paced WCA with 10 points.
“We didn’t give much effort,” Melvin assessed. “They were scared. From this, we can learn to play as a team and be stronger with the ball.”
The Chargers of the North Carolina Christian School Association 2-A division welcome DASH United on Friday evening.
GRACE CHRISTIAN (75)
Murr 28, Taylor 13, Martin 17, McKay 6, Rodriguez, Garris 3, Matson, Brewer 2, Sebastian, Russ 6.
WILSON CHRISTIAN (37)
Ortiz 3, Horrell 5, Miller 5, Melvin 10, Thompson 2, H. Parker 3, S. Parker 5, Spinella, Jackson, Provo, Peacock 2, Wood 2.
Score by quarters:
Grace Christian 21 13 21 20 — 75
WCA 4 8 13 12 — 37