Defense carries Blazers past Shalom

The Cumberland Valley Christian Blazers used stifling defense in the second half to defeat the Shalom Christian Flames 57-39 Monday evening in a Mason-Dixon Christian Conference boys basketball game.

“The second half was huge for us defensively,” Blazers coach Austin Sanders said. “We didn’t play our best offensively, but we turned the defense up to another level in that third and fourth quarter. Proud of the way these guys fought tonight.”

The Blazers (10-2, 5-1 MDCC) led by a bucket, 28-26, entering the third quarter but held Shalom to 13 points in the second half.

The Blazers were on top 17-16 at the end of the first period as freshman point guard Nollin Egolf scored seven points, but Shalom led by five several times in the second quarter. Junior Blaine Minnier’s 3-pointer in the fading seconds of the quarter provided the two-point halftime edge.

The Blazer defense took over in the third quarter, holding the Flames to six points, four of which came on foul shots. Junior Caleb Eckert’s emphatic, in-traffic dunk gave the Blazers an eight-point lead, and Minnier’s deep 3-pointer at the buzzer provided the exclamation mark to the Blazers’ 19-point quarter as they stretched the lead to 47-32.

Minnier scored 17 points for the Blazers, leaving him 28 shy of 1,000 for his career. Eckert led the team with 16 rebounds and five blocked shots in addition to scoring 13 points. Egolf had a huge night with 16 points, eight assists and five steals.

Isaac Kauffeldt added seven points, Ryan Winters scored four points and Kenneth Hott handed out three assists.

The Blazers held a 38-27 rebounding edge and forced 16 turnovers while committing 13.

“This was a good win for us,” Sanders said. “We wanted to come out here tonight and run the floor on both offense and defense. I felt like we were able to do that for most of the game.”

Brayden Parker scored nine points to lead Shalom. Elijah Lehman and Eric Valle had six each, Caleb Roseman five, Blake Emge and Aiden Jones four each, Jared Diehl three and Sawyer Shank one.