Basketball

Blazers fall to Heritage in tight semifinal

MARTINSBURG, W. Va. – Heritage Academy broke a late tie and went on to defeat the Cumberland Valley Christian Blazers 39-34 in a Mason-Dixon Christian Conference playoff semifinal boys basketball game Friday in the Berkeley 2000 Recreation Center.

“Tough loss tonight,” Blazers coach Austin Sanders said. “This was definitely not the outcome we wanted or expected, but I thought we competed well throughout all four quarters. We were grinding it out on defense just trying to string some stops together and hoping that would fuel our offense.”

The third-seeded Blazers (13-13) actually built the largest margin of the game for either team, 27-18, midway through the third quarter. Second-seeded Heritage came back to trim the lead to two, 29-27, entering the fourth period.

With Heritage leading 31-29, the Blazers’ Blaine Minnier scored on a give-and-go from Caleb Eckert to tie the game. Heritage went back on top with four straight points before Eckert drilled a 3-pointer with less than 90 seconds to play to get the score within 35-34.

The Blazers had an opportunity to take the lead after Heritage missed the front end of a one-and-one, but turnovers on several of their final possessions destroyed their chances. The Blazers finished with 23 turnovers.

“We had a nice run in the third quarter and all the momentum,” Sanders said. “Unfortunately, we turned the ball over way too much, especially at the end of the game when we needed to execute. Credit Heritage and their great defensive play. They made it very hard for us to get anything going on offense.”

For the Blazers, Isaac Kauffeldt topped the Blazers in scoring with nine points, the first time this year anyone other than Eckert or Minnier led in scoring. Eckert and Minnier each scored eight, Nathan Statler five, and Triston Horn and Ken Hott two apiece. Eckert had 14 rebounds, four assists and five blocked shots, Minnier had nine rebounds, two assists and two blocked shots, Horn had six rebounds, and Statler had five rebounds and four assists.

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The Blazers’ Triston Horn (15) fires an outlet pass toward teammate Blaine Minnier (24), while Isaac Kauffeldt (22), Caleb Eckert (23) and Nathan Statler (21) head up the court against Heritage Friday in the MDCC semifinals.

“I told the guys after the game to hold their heads high,” Sanders said. “It’s definitely hard to process right now, but we need to turn our focus onto our game [today] and be as prepared as possible to lock in third place.”

For Heritage, Dylan Cline came off the bench to score 12 points, including six in the fourth quarter. Corbin Denton also scored 12 points and Tyler Horst added nine.

The Blazers will play Shalom Christian in the consolation game at 4 p.m. today in the Berkeley 2000 Recreation Center. Fifth-seeded Shalom lost to No. 1 seed Broadfording 64-24 in the other semifinal.