No. 1 Grace MBB Wins Crossroads League Title On Senior Day

by | Feb 25, 2024 | Basketball, Headlines | 0 comments

Lancers celebrate Senior Day in style

WINONA LAKE, Ind. – Grace’s men’s basketball game on Saturday had the feel of a coronation.

The Lancers rolled Mt. Vernon Nazarene 100-77 in the regular season finale.

The win, which was also on Senior Day, made Grace the undisputed regular season champions of the Crossroads League for the second year in a row.

Grace finished the regular season with a record of 27-1, the best regular-season mark in team history. The Lancers went 17-1 in league play, two games ahead of second-place IWU. It represents Grace’s best conference record in terms of most wins and best winning percentage in the Lancers’ 67-year history.

The Lancers will now transition to the postseason. As the No. 1 seed in the conference, Grace will host a game in the CL Tournament as long as they win. The quarterfinals are at home on Wednesday against Taylor at 7 p.m. The semifinals will be three days later on Saturday. The championship is set for Tuesday, March 5.

Grace began Saturday’s game on a strong note. The Lancers scored on their first three possessions, including scores from Elijah Malone, Jakob Gibbs and Cade Gibbs.

Before seven minutes had expired, Grace had opened up a 20-12 lead. Malone scored 11 points during the opening stretch; he feasted on his usual diet of powerful dunks and clinical finishes at the rim as well as a 3-pointer sprinkled in.

Midway through the half, Grace used an 11-2 run to charge in front 35-16. All of Grace’s points were scored by the team’s second unit.

But the Cougars were not ready to fade. MVNU got hot from the 3-point line, hitting four triples in the span of a few minutes to eat into Grace’s lead.

The Lancers’ cushion had dwindled down to five, but Jakob Gibbs helped reestablish Grace’s momentum. Gibbs used several silky smooth drives to score nine straight points down the stretch.

Grace went into halftime with a 48-37 lead. Jakob Gibbs led all players with 16 points at the intermission.

Grace shot 57 percent from the floor in the first half compared to 48 percent from MVNU.

To begin the second half, the Lancers attacked in the paint and quickly built up a 58-41 lead.

But the Cougars again used their outside shooting to stay in range. MVNU hit three 3s in three minutes to trim Grace’s lead to 60-52 with 14:48 remaining.

The Lancers were about to seize control, however. Grace roared to life with a massive 27-5 run.

Carter Stoltzfus was a spark plug during the run. He hit a 3-pointer and also made a clever steal and score in the backcourt to keep the Manahan Orthopaedic Capital Center crowd on its feet.

The game gained a late crescendo when senior Cole Beck scored on two straight driving layups in the last two minutes. His final bucket gave the Lancers 100 points as Grace coasted to the final buzzer.

Beck, along with Malone and Jake Wadding, were honored before Saturday’s game as part of Grace’s Senior Day.

Jakob Gibbs shot 9 of 13 from the floor, finishing with a game-high 23 points.

Malone tallied 15 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 blocks, and Cade Gibbs finished with 12 points and three boards.

Wadding had 8 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists, and Gage Sefton scored 10 points off the bench.

Ian Scott notched 7 points, 6 boards and 6 assists, Stoltzfus had 7 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals, Ian Raasch scored eight points, and Beck scored four points.

Grace had a massive advantage in the paint, outscoring MVNU 66-26. The Cougars were held to 44 percent shooting for the game while the Lancers shot 61 percent.

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