December 20, 2016. Seventy days ago, the Crusaders of Unity Christian lost a 65-49 contest against South Christian to drop to 2-3 on the young season. After the new year, Coach Scott Soodsma’s bunch was a completely different unit as they won fourteen consecutive games, including an undefeated 12-0 record in OK Green play. Tonight however, in their final regular season contest, the Crusaders were finally defeated as they lost on the road at Okemos by a final of 52-46.
In the first quarter, the Chiefs used an extended defense to force Unity into some ill-advised turnovers, as well as some effective transition offense to take a 16-13 lead. The second quarter was much of the same as Okemos forced Unity into some fast jump shots, and they would not fall. A horrid shooting half to the Crusaders (24%) surprisingly was not enough for Unity Christian to fall out of this one, as they only trailed 24-18 at the break.
Coming out of the locker room, senior Brevin DeBoer had an impressive run as he scored five straight points and added an assist to put the Crusaders out in front 28-26 just two and a half minutes into the third quarter. After a key timeout called by Okemos coach Jeff Wonch, the tides began to turn. Over the next eight minutes (extending into the early portion of the fourth quarter), the Chiefs went on a 12-0 run to take a commanding 38-28 lead.
Unity Christian made multiple attempts to claw back into the game, and they actually came within three points with the basketball and 35 seconds left in the game. Okemos’ stout defense forced a travelling call however, and a pair of free throws on the other end put it out of reach.
In the loss, Unity Christian was led by Brevin DeBoer and Austin Steenwyk, who each had nine points. The Crusaders, who were ranked seventh in this week’s Remax-United Power Poll, finish the regular season with a record of 16-4. They will be back in action next Wednesday when they face the winner of Holland Christian and Hamilton in the second round of Class B District 49 play at Coopersville.
Okemos was led by junior Jordan Henry who scored 18 points, and senior Vail Hartman who contributed 17 points in the win. They forced twelve turnovers, and out rebounded the Crusaders 31-29, including a 13-8 advantage on the offensive glass. The Chiefs improve to 11-8 on the season and they will host Corunna on Friday in their regular season finale.