Aberdeen, SD - After a short three game slide to begin the season the Men's Basketball team finished second at the Isreal-Strong Memorial Tournament hosted by Presentation College in Aberdeen, South Dakota. On Thursday the Crusaders lined up against Nebraska Christian College of Hope International University and found a way to come out on top in a thriller, 98-97. The game began fast with senior Hunter Bennett knocking down an open three ball on the second possession of the game. The game went back and forth in the first half with NCC leading by as many as 8 points before DCC battled back to take a 52-50 halftime lead. The second half proved to be more of the same with both teams combining for over 40 points in the half's first five minutes before NCC called a timeout with 15 minutes to play. The Sentinels were led by DJ Hanes who played all 40 minutes while dropping 47 points on 29 shots from the field.
"DJ Hanes is the real deal," commented Coach Jordan Strom, "We tried throwing a handful of different looks at him, but in the end it didn't matter. That guy can flat out score and he kept them rolling from start to finish."
With 2:30 left on the clock the Crusaders would find themselves down 89-95. Sophomore Jordon Watson would knock down two free throws to bring DCC within 4. After coming up with a stop Watson would find Bennett in the corner for a catch and shoot three ball to cut the score to 94-95 with just under two minutes to play. The next two possessions would see both teams split free throws to knot the difference at 95-96. With 19.8 seconds left in the game senior Kel Williams would pop off of a ball screen and take a pass from Watson then knock down a three from 22 feet to give the Crusaders the lead for good.
"Any win is a good win, but beating a scholarship school 900 miles from home for the first win of the year is big for this team. We were short handed from a rotation standpoint, but everyone from the bench to the starters stepped up big for the team," said Strom.
In the win three Crusaders eclipsed the 20 point mark led by career highs from Watson (29) and Bennett (28) while Williams finished with 21. With the win DCC advanced to the championship game on Friday night against the host school, Presentation College.
On Friday DCC would get a chance at an in-season championship, but would fall short. Presentation College knocked down 15-31 for 48% while shooting 65% from the field all the while holding DCC to a chilly 30% from the field. The Crusaders would fall 69-114 to finish second.
"Give credit to Presentation College. They came out focused and ready to go from start to finish and took it to us. Coach Reigle and PC handed it to us, but I am proud of our kids in how they competed this weekend," commented Strom.