Village Christian 63, Oaks Christian 61By Jack Pollon
Saturday nights are usually reserved for something special.
Village Christian's Marsalis Johnson definitely had a special one Saturday, making a 10-foot baseline jumper at the buzzer to give the Crusaders a wild 63-61 nonleague victory against Oaks Christian.
Johnson broke free on the baseline and received a pass from a driving Bryan Alberts with the clock winding down. "I just thought about practice and all the jumpers we shoot everyday," Johnson said. "Practice makes perfect. Practice makes me do it the right way in the games."
It was only fitting the game came down to the final possession.
Village Christian (21-3), the defending Div. V state champion and current top-ranked team in Div. V-AA, came in with all defeats by two points or less. Oaks Christian (14-11) entered with six losses by four points or less.
The Lions pushed Village Christian all night and had a chance for the win but Jackson Miller lost the ball with the shot clock winding down and 17 seconds remaining, allowing the Crusaders the final opportunity.
Johnson finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds, Alberts scored 16 points, sophomore Jerrick Ahanmisi scored 13 points and Bijon Isles had 11 points for the Crusaders. Aleks Abrams and K.J. Smith each scored 15 points and sophomore Tyler Harris chipped in 12 points to lead Oaks Christian.
After erasing an eight-point halftime deficit with a 10-2 run to start the third, Oaks Christian got hot again to start the fourth. Smith made two 3-pointers and sophomore Ryan Hiepler made a 3-pointer. The Lions took a 57-55 lead and another Smith 3-pointer tied the game at 59-59 with 2:25 remaining.
However, Oaks Christian couldn't get close the game, losing its fifth game by two points or less.
"We are young," Oaks Christian coach A.J. Moye said. "At the end of the day, we are young. I'm young, they're young. We are going to be a great team in the next few years. We are all learning. We just have to keep digging. They have tremendous heart and hustle."
Both teams shot extremely well from long distance. Village Christian made 10 3-pointers, including nine in the first half to erase a five-point deficit. Oaks Christian made seven 3-pointers, including five in the second half.
Alberts, who made the unselfish play at the end to set up Johnson, had four rebounds and four assists. Andre English contributed six points and 12 rebounds for Village Christian.
The Crusaders have an important Olympic League game Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at Maranatha, while Oaks Christian hosts Bishop Diego Wednesday before awaiting the Div. IV-AA playoff draw next Sunday.