Despite a valiant second half comeback from the Calvary Warriors, a Sabercat rally in the second overtime period fueled Maranatha Baptist University to a 92-101 victory over Calvary at the Faith Baptist Christmas Classic Friday evening.
Maranatha jumped out to an early lead in the first minutes of the game. Poor defense and some missed offensive opportunities haunted the Warriors early. Coach Matt Sanders substituted his defensive “Storm Troupers” into the game at the 14-minute mark. This group of defenders changed the speed of the game and started causing some Maranatha turnovers. This was a turning point in the first half as Calvary’s defensive pressure started to pay off. The defensive pressure would lead to 24 Maranatha turnovers throughout the game which was a huge part of the comeback at the end of regulation.
At the ten-minute mark of the second half, the defensive pressure got stronger and the Warriors got numerous back to back stops. The Sabercats only scored nine points in the last ten minutes of regulation. This allowed Calvary to continue to chip away offensively. Ike Maxwell and Braydon Unruh both hit big three-point shots as the second half was winding down to allow Calvary to go up by three in the final two minutes of the game.
“Ike was terrific off the bench for us tonight,” stated Sanders. “His seven points and seven boards were large for us. Joe really did a good job tonight as well. I was proud of our execution on both sides of the floor during that second half. We limited our turnovers to only eleven today. We really tightened some things up defensively in the last seven days as well and it was really evident tonight.”
Despite the execution on both sides of the floor for the Warriors down the stretch, the Sabercats came rallying back. After losing the lead with one minute to go they had one final chance to tie the game with 4.4 seconds left in regulation. They were able to hit a three as the buzzer sounded to force the game into OT.
“We didn’t make strong decisions down the stretch,” Sanders said. “We gave them an open three at the end of regulation. At the end of the first OT we had the chance to get a shot to win it and didn’t execute what we needed to.”
Going into the second OT the game was tied 89-89. Maranatha hit some key shots while they had some great stops at the defensive end to stop Calvary. Maranatha held on to the lead from this point on after making key shots down the stretch to clinch a 92-101 victory over Calvary.
“Despite the loss I am very proud of our team,” Coach Sanders said. “We will have lots of success in second semester of play if we can keep improving defensively like we did today. This team has no quit in them. I’ve never seen a team respond with this much fight.”
Ques Harris led the way for the Warriors scoring 25 points, six rebounds, and three steals. Zak Kirkman added 17 points, and seven rebounds while Braydon Unruh contributed 16 points, four steals, four assists, and nine rebounds.
Next up, the Warriors will face Trinity tomorrow. Tip-off is scheduled for 12:00.