The first two quarters went back and forth — play after play resulted in entertaining commentary between both coaches and officials, as well as the clearly-audible student section’s witty remarks — but Griffin Christian began to pull ahead in the middle of the third, first with a great low post pass from David Thomas to Aaron McCray for a wide open three at 3:32, then a pull up shot from McCray 30 seconds later to solidify a 43-28 lead.
The intensity that seemed to trademark the game continued even with the gaping lead, spilling well into the fourth before both teams took it down a notch. For most of the second half hard fouls and screaming coaches became the norm, along with flying bodies and vehement boos from the crowd.
Perhaps the highlight of the night was when Hightower and McCray each performed tough in-traffic crossovers to pull up jumpers in back-to-back possessions, extending the Crusaders’ lead to 21 with 4:22 to play in the game.
Both teams committed several uncalled flagrant fouls down the stretch. Griffin Christian’s second leading scorer, Wil Savage (16.1 ppg) and sophomore CJ Lewis fouled out within 11 seconds of each other halfway through the final period. Westfield subsequently made its free throws, breaking the game into single-digits before Griffin Christian settled down and reclaimed control of the pace. Hightower and Wilson managed the game superbly in the final minutes, along with great defense from Thomas and Alec Marierose to help ensure that Westfield wouldn’t mount a comeback.
Rounding out the Crusader’s leading scorers were: Jonathan Hammond with 11, McCray with 10, Savage with 9, and Lewis with 6. Giles Amos led the the Hornets with 14 points.
Griffin Christian’s next game will be home against GISA Region 4-AA opponent Flint River Academy on Friday.