Blazer boys look to defend title

The Cumberland Valley Christian Blazers are hoping for a repeat.

The Blazers open defense of their Mason-Dixon Christian Conference boys basketball tournament title by hosting New Life Christian this evening at 7 o’clock in the MDCC semifinals.

The Blazers (15-3) drew a first-round bye after finishing as the top seed with a 10-1 league record. New Life defeated Calvary in Tuesday’s quarterfinals. Tonight’s winner will face the Shalom-Heritage winner in Saturday evening’s championship game at Heritage.

“As we move forward towards the playoffs, I would like to see us improve defensively,” Blazers coach Austin Sanders said. “We are capable of being a great defensive team. We just need to have that focus going into this weekend.”

The Blazers wrapped up the regular-season portion of their league schedule by claiming two 19-point victories last week, 77-58 at New Life and 70-51 at home against Calvary.

“Two solid wins for us as we closed out league play,” Sanders said. “New Life really challenged us with their press, but we were able to settle down and protect the ball better towards the end of the third quarter. I thought we had a good overall game against Calvary.”

Against New Life, the Blazers found themselves in a rare position in league games, trailing in the latter stages of the third quarter. The Blazers were behind 49-43 but scored the game’s next 20 points to assume command.

Caleb Eckert scored 37 points and grabbed 17 rebounds to lead the Blazers. Eckert also had four assists, three steals and three blocked shots. Blaine Minnier scored 22 points and pulled down five rebounds. Nollin Egolf scored 12 points and handed out six assists. Josh Rowe added four points, and Isaac Kauffeldt scored two.

Against Calvary, the Blazers jumped ahead early in the first quarter and maintained a double-digit lead throughout the game.

Eckert scored 29 points, grabbed 22 rebounds and blocked four shots. Minnier scored 15 points and just missed a double-double with nine rebounds. Egolf also just missed a double-double, scoring 16 points and handing out nine assists. Ryan Winters also reached double figures with 10 points.