January 27 – Oradell, NJ – The Crusader Basketball Team has some familiar faces and some new blood, but the chemistry seems to be an A+.
There’s a new BIG MAN in town. Losing thousand-point scorers Zach Freemantle (Xavier) and Matt Zona (Notre Dame) to graduation over the past two years, there was some question entering 2021. Of course, senior D’Ari Duncan returns, but more on him later. Earning a spot in the starting line-up is freshman, Terry Copeland, who made his presence felt immediately. Copeland blocked three shots in the first two minutes of the game, letting the Lions know the paint was not a welcome place.
Despite Copeland’s early heroics, BC trailed early 6-2. That’s when classmate, Elliot Cadeau, scored his first career basket, a 3-pointer, to cut lead to 8-5. Cadeau would go on to finish with 11 points in his high school debut. After Will Richardson made a steal, he set up a pull-up jumper for Cadeau who cut the lead to just a point.
Insert D’Ari Duncan who made a big defensive rebound and quick outlet pass to Will Richardson who finished a beautiful left-handed reverse lay-up and giving BC its first lead of the night, 9-8.
The Crusaders used its terrific depth throughout the game and that led to Julian Brown taking over scoring responsibilities. In his typical fashion, Julian drove to the basket and softly dropped the ball over the front rim for 2 and an 11-8 BC lead.
Copeland re-entered the game and his presence inside, alters the inside shot by the Lions, setting up a lay-up by another new face on the court for BC. Kyle Robinson, a junior transfer scored his first two points for BC and following rebounds by Nick Caggiano and Elias Espinosa, Robinson knocked down his first trey for the scarlet and gold, closing out the 1st quarter and giving BC a 16-8 lead.
Elijah Flournoy made the most of his time, finding his way to a layup to open the scoring in 2nd quarter 18-8. Not to be out-done by Robinson, Flournoy followed his deuce with a three-pointer.
Shift the spotlight to Duncan. D’Ari started demonstrating his skills on both sides of the court, scoring a basket, sprinting back and blocking a shot, and then finishing another basket on the offensive end to give BC a 10-point lead (28-18) and force the Lions to take a timeout with 1:55 remaining in the half.
The Lions closed the lead to 28-23 at the buzzer as questionable call allowed basket to count. An Immaculate Conception guard dribbled down court and it appeared as if the buzzer and timer sounded before the ball left the shooter’s hand. As there is no instant replay in high school basketball, the call stood and BC held a 5-point lead at the half.
Despite being the highest scoring period of the game, the third quarter was not the best for BC. The Lions outscored the Crusaders 20-18, closing the lead to just two points after three quarters.
As BC needed to re-establish its control of the game, Will Richardson’s 3-pointer to open the quarter and Julian Brown’s patented running-one hander lifted BC to a 50-46 lead. Richardson finished with a game-high 25 points and Brown added ten.
D’Ari made a huge defensive rebound and set up Terry Copeland in transition as BC started building their lead, now six points.
Will Richardson, showed he’s much more than just an offensive star, forced a turnover and BC went into its half-court offense. Richardson found a lane and drove, picking up a foul. He dropped in both free throws and the lead was now 8 with 5 minutes remaining.
Robinson (7 points) stole the ball on the defensive end, setting up another BC possession which took 40 seconds off the clock and resulted in a Will Richardson layup. After D’Ari Duncan influenced a shot and caused a turnover, he sent the ball down court to an awaiting Richardson whose two handed-dunk ignited the Crusader Bench. BC led 58-46 and IC called time out with 3:58 remaining.
BC extended its lead to 60-47 as Duncan drew a foul and stepped to the line. He hit one of two shots and increased the lead to 14.
Richardson made a defensive rebound and pushed the ball up court. The relentlessness of the Crusader attack and the depth coming off the bench including – Caggiano, Joe Scrivanich and Espinosa, caused major problems for a very talented, but not as deep Lion squad.
Put it in the books. BC starts the 2021 season with a 72-58 victory, extending its current winning streak (from 2020) to four