MT. VERNON, Ohio – The Cumberland Valley Christian Blazers finished their boys basketball season by going 2-1 and finishing fifth among 16 teams in their division in the National Christian School Athletic Association tournament at Mount Vernon Nazarene University.
The Blazers ended their season with a 15-15 record after losing to division champion Victory (Indiana) 92-52 and beating Portersville (Pa.) Christian 56-48 and Shenandoah Valley (Va.) 68-58 in the tournament.
“Overall, I feel our guys played really well in the tournament,” Blazers coach Austin Sanders said. “We came out lazy in the first half of the first game, but that was probably the best team we played all season. Fortunately for us, we didn’t let that game ruin the weekend, and we were able to finish the season with two wins.
“I’m really proud of this team, especially our seniors. This group of seniors have been a great example of what it takes to be successful. They worked hard, never made excuses and gave 100% in everything they did.”
In the first game, Victory raced to a 29-12 first-quarter lead and amassed 60 points in the first half. Victory’s Tyler Schmidt poured in 42 points.
For the Blazers, sophomore Blaine Minnier scored 22 points and handed out three assists, and senior Nathan Statler added 10 points, five rebounds and three assists. Sophomore Caleb Eckert had five rebounds, four assists and two points. Also scoring were junior Kenneth Hott with six points, eighth-grader Jayden Rideout with five, senior Eladio Pena with four, and senior Triston Horn and sophomore Isaac Kauffeldt with two each. Seniors Jacob Russell and Josiah Ziebarth also contributed for the Blazers.
Against Portersville, the Blazers built a double-digit second-half lead, but Portersville charged back to tie the game and send it into overtime. The Blazers outscored Portersville 10-2 in the overtime.
Eckert scored 22 points and grabbed 14 rebounds to lead the Blazers. Minnier added 18 points. Horn had a season-high 12 rebounds to go along with his five points, and Hott had five points and four assists. Also, Rideout scored three points, Statler two and Kauffeldt one.
In the game to determine fifth place, Shenandoah held a 30-24 lead at halftime, but Minnier scored the first 11 points of the second half, hitting a field goal and three 3-pointers, to put the Blazers in front. Minnier wound up with 32 points and four assists.
Eckert scored 22 points, pulled down 16 rebounds and contributed five assists. Kauffeldt had eight points, Hott added four points and four assists, and Statler had two points and six assists.
Minnier and Eckert were named to the all-tournament team.