Basketball

Blazers cruise into MDCC championship game

MARTINSBURG, W. Va. – The Cumberland Valley Christian Blazers are within a game of attaining their No. 1 team goal for this boys basketball season.

The Blazers whipped Calvary Christian 65-35 Friday evening in the Mason Dixon Christian Conference semifinals to advance to Saturday evening’s championship game.

The top-seeded Blazers will play No. 2 seed Heritage Academy at 7:15 p.m. Saturday for the championship at the Berkeley County Recreation Center. Heritage advanced with a 40-30 victory over Shalom Christian.

“This will be the biggest game of our season, but we believe we are ready,” Blazers coach Austin Sanders said. “We are excited for the opportunity to play for a championship, and I have the utmost confidence that these young men can achieve that goal.”

The Blazers (22-2) earned their 15th straight victory by piling up a big early lead against fourth-seeded Calvary. Junior Caleb Eckert led the Blazers with 26 points and 15 rebounds, and he surpassed 1,000 rebounds for his career. He also blocked three shots and made two steals.

“Caleb was dominant from the start, but I was really proud of how everyone was able to get involved,” Sanders said. “Also proud of Caleb for getting his 1,000th rebound. He works hard on both ends of the floor, and we rely on him to pull down those boards to gain the possessions.”

CVCS scored the game’s first nine points and 17 of the first 19 to assume command. They led 19-6 at the end of the first quarter and 35-11 at the half. They removed any glimmer of hope that Calvary might have had by outscoring the Eagles 18-8 in the third period to go ahead 53-19.

“Our message tonight to our players was to start fast,” Sanders said. “We wanted to dominate defensively and let that create easy offensive opportunities. We were able to do that pretty well tonight.”

The Blazers were balanced in scoring behind Eckert. Ryan Winters popped in a season-high 10 points, Nollin Egolf nine, Isaac Kauffeldt eight, Blaine Minnier seven and Kenneth Hott five.

Also for the Blazers, Minnier contributed nine rebounds and two blocked shots, Egolf had four assists and seven rebounds, Kauffeldt had five rebounds, Winters had five rebounds, three assists and two steals, and Hott had three assists.

The Blazers dominated the glass by a 43-23 margin and committed only nine turnovers.

The Blazers split a pair of games with Heritage during the regular season, losing by nine, 53-44, at home but winning by two in overtime at Heritage, 62-60.

Calvary will play Shalom in the consolation game at 4 p.m.

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Cumberland Valley Christian’s Nollin Egolf tries to maneuver around Calvary’s Logan Corwell as teammate Ryan Winters (5) sets a screen Friday evening. 

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CVCS players Caleb Eckert (23), Isaac Kauffeldt (22) and Kenneth Hott (3) surround a loose ball.

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The Blazers’ Blaine Minnier (24) whips a pass up the court.