By Mike Hastings
The Christ Presbyterian Academy boys’s basketball team have shown just what it takes to overcome losing your two best players to transfers, and team leaders to graduation - a Lion’s heart.
CPA has come together as a team and done what few had given them a chance to do - finish the season undefeated in district play, wrapping up another title on their way to the playoffs.
Friday’s game against a very athletic team from Marshall County was a perfect example of how they have done it.
Combining long range marksmanship and a tenacious defense, the Lions beat Marshall County 73-66 in front of a appreciative home crowd on senior night.
Appropriately, it was their only starting senior, Evan Ragsdale that led the way, scoring 23 points, including clutch jumpers when Marshall County looked like that may ruin the party.
Leading scorer Clay Washburn got things set the tone right off the bat, winning the opening jump ball, then knocking down a long three-pointer to give the Lions a 3-0 lead.
Drew Scott and Michael Mayernick got involved, Scott hitting for three and Mayernick driving the lane for a lay-up to make it 8-4.
Washburn grabbed an offensive board and put it back to extend the lead, and when Ragsdale hit his first three-pointer the lead was 15-9.
But Marshall County always battles the Lions hard and this game was no exception.
They pressed CPA on defense and that led to fast-break baskets. When they converted their first three-pointer, they took the lead 16-15.
Scott was able to break free for a layup off an inbound pass to give the Lions the lead again 17-16.
After playing good defense, Bryce McCormick held the ball for the last shot of the first quarter, and converter it to give CPA the lead 19-16.
Washburn started the second quarter like he did the first, hitting a long three pointer to stretch the lead to 22-16.
Again, Marshall battled back with two baskets to cut the lead to 22-20.
That’s when CPA’s balanced attack came to life. First Ragsdale hit for three, then Washburn for two and Scott for two more. Soon the Lions had taken charge once again 33-20.
Marshall hit a three-pointer to cut the lead to ten, but Washburn hit two more threes and the half ended with the Lions up 39-28.
Marshall forced some turnovers to start the third period and cut the lead to 43-39. Lions’ coach Drew Maddux called a time-out to try to cool Marshall off, but it didn’t work.
Marshall kept coming and with 2:30 left in the third quarter tied the game 48-48.
As has been the case all year, CPA showed their Lion’s heart. Washburn, who was held scoreless in the second half, forced a turnover and found Ragsdale opened for three. the senior knocked down the shot to give CPA the lead back 51-48.
Marshall then converted one of two free throws, and forced a turnover that led to a three-pointer of their own, giving them the lead back 52-51.
The lead went back and forth the next few possessions and at the end of the third quarter, the Lions found themselves trailing 54-53.
When Ragsdale was called for a charge, Marshall scored of the turnover to make it 56-53.
But this time it was CPA’s turn to come back. Scott got open for a layup on an inbound play, and then Mayernick was able to drive the lane and convert to give the Lions the lead again 57-56.
Ragsdale then convert a big three to make it 60-56, and scored again off a turnover for a 63-56 Lion lead.
Marshall was able to play strong defense and hit big shots to cut the lead again to 63-60.
Bryce McCormick then drove the lane, made the layup and was fouled. When he convert the free throw, the Lions led 66-60 with 3:25 left.
Marshall was not able to come close again, as the Lions killed some clock with each possession. McCormick again converted his free throws with 40 seconds left that gave CPA their 71-66 winning margin.
Mayernick, Washburn and McCormick each finished with 13 points and Scott added seven points.
The Lions will defend their Regional title beginning this week.
Favorite Feature - CPA's Heart of a Lion