After a riveting fourth quarter, the boys basketball team lost its homecoming game to Cristo Rey 45-40 on Jan. 18.
Junior Jackson Crawford led the Cavaliers (4-9 overall, 1-6 in league) with 21 points. Following him were junior Ted Zhou with 11 points, sophomore Martin Cao with four points and juniors Aaron Graves and Chris Wilson with two points each.
Country Day began the game with a basket by Zhou but soon fell behind Cristo Rey (6-6, 2-5). The first quarter ended with a 3-pointer from Crawford, but the Cavs were still behind 22-5.
With a 17-point gap, the Cavs pushed aggressively across the court at the start of the second quarter in hopes of getting a few early points. Wilson delivered with a basket.
Halfway through the second quarter, the teams fought over possession of the ball, ending with a foul to Crawford, granting him two free throws. Crawford made both, bringing the score to 24-10.
After a 3-pointer from Crawford a minute later, the Saints made two free throws, bringing the score to 26-13. However, the Saints soon lost possession, and Crawford made a layup and then a 3-pointer from the baseline.
Excitement was in the air when Crawford took the ball for another two free throws, making both.
With 45 seconds left in the second quarter, Zhou took the ball up the court and passed to Crawford, who sank another 3-pointer. But even with Crawford’s 15 points in the second quarter, the Cavs were still behind 28-22 at halftime.
“We weren’t ready for what (Cristo Rey) was bringing,” Wilson said. “But as the half progressed, we started catching up.”
After hot chocolate and s’mores were served outside during halftime, the second half started with a bucket by Graves. The Saints followed with a basket of their own; however, Cao, scored another basket, bringing the Cavs within 30-26.
Both teams struggled for the ball and alternated scoring, the Saints scoring a layup and Zhou making a 3-pointer to make it 32-29. The crowd went wild when Zhou sank another 3-pointer from the baseline to tie the score 32-32.
With the Cavs feeding off the crowd’s energy, Zhou landed yet another 3-pointer. However, Cristo Rey followed with two layups, and the third quarter ended with the Cavs trailing 36-35.
The fourth quarter started with the Saints in possession, and they brought the score to 38-35.
With the Cavs struggling on defense, the Saints scored again. With four minutes left in the game, Cao pushed through Cristo Rey’s defense and scored a layup.
With newfound energy, the Cavs made multiple attempts to score but to no avail.
“I had two (Cristo Rey players) on me,” Zhou said. “(It’s difficult to get past) two guys.”
With 90 seconds left in the game, Crawford dribbled forward and shot from behind the 3-point line. The crowd went wild as the ball landed in the net, pulling the Cavs within 42-40.
Both teams took timeouts to discuss strategy, while the crowd began chanting, “Let’s go, Cavs! Let’s go!”
The next minute was tense, with both teams unable to score. However, Cristo Rey made a free throw at 13 seconds and followed with two more. With less than three seconds left, the Cavs made a final play but missed the shot.
“(The Cavs) played hard in the second half,” coach David Ancrum said. “They rebounded the ball better, but they could’ve been a little tougher.
“We made some mistakes down the stretch in the last few minutes that we shouldn’t (have). We’re not making the same mistakes — we’re making new mistakes — which means the guys are getting better.”
Zhou agreed that the team was improving.
“Our defense wasn’t bad,” he said. “We were getting rebounds. But it was on the offense that we missed so many layups and shots.”
Crawford added that his favorite part of the game was the second quarter.
“A highlight of the game was definitely when we scored 17 points in the second quarter,” Crawford said. “We just came roaring back from the first quarter.”
The Cavs’ next game will take place on Saturday, Jan. 19, at 7:30 p.m., at Valley Christian.