Crusaders go 1-1 in section play

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The Mayer Lutheran girls basketball team’s season came to an end last week, falling at the hands of Heritage Christian Academy in the Section 4A Tournament. Though the Crusaders’ year ended with a loss, they accomplished a lot, racking up 18 wins.

“It’s certainly nothing to hang our heads about,” coach Kris Gustin said. “We are proud of the way we played.”

The 2016-17 squad was formidable, taking on ranked teams regularly, while two individuals also reached career milestones. Mya Chmielewski and Emilee Gustin set school records in steals and three-pointers respectively, while both guards also reached 1,000 points.

The section tournament presented a tough challenge, as the bracket was littered with top-tier opponents. A 17-win season for the Crusaders only earned them a No. 5 seed in the playoffs, where they opened the tourney by hosting No. 12 Liberty Classical Academy March 2.

The Crusaders led from the opening tip, outgunning the Lions in a 89-8 win.

“You certainly tip your hat to them,” Kris Gustin said of the Lions. “The girls played hard to the end.”

In the win, the Crusaders got everyone on the court, leading to 14 girls scoring on the night. Four Crusaders reached double-digits, with Sophie Flucas leading the way at 13, Maddy Hucky and Katelyn Shipler scoring 11 each, while Chmielewski added 10.

The Crusaders then headed on to battle No. 4 Heritage Christian Academy March 4.

Mayer Lutheran started out on top 5-0 before a 15-5 run from the Eagles put the Crusaders behind. Mayer Lutheran rallied to cut the deficit down to one heading into the break.

Heritage Christian Academy managed to outscore Mayer Lutheran 33-19 in the second half to pull out the win, but the Crusaders were on the verge of taking the lead throughout most of the second half.

“We played them tight in the second half,” Kris Gustin said. “Up until the last 5 minutes of the game, we were right with them.”

The Eagles started to pull away and the Crusaders could not cut into the deficit as Heritage Christian Academy delivered at the free throw line, shooting 86 percent in the win.

Hucky led the scoring effort for Mayer Lutheran with 17 points, followed by Emilee Gustin (10), Flucas (8), Olivia Quiram (4), Nicole Klaustermeier (4) and Chmielewski (2).

Flucas was active on the boards, grabbing a team-high 12 rebounds. Emilee Gustin dished out a team-high of six assists.