Crossroads dominates on Senior Night

Feb. 2—HENDERSON — Crossroads Christian dominated their senior night, beating the Trinity School of Durham and Chapel Hill Lions 76-57 at home on Thursday.

Senior Kyren Smith showed "passion and energy" as the top scorer for his team in the loss. Spamming his 'tween dribble-spin move combo, the guard put on a scoring display, single-handedly keeping his team in the game. But Smith was matched up against the feisty freshman, Ely Phillips, who was in the upperclassman's jersey, smiling at him up big in the second half.

Phillips finished with 18 points, and — like his sister who leads the girls' team in steals — locks in and commits to playing defense. Dropping into an intense, defensive stance multiple times throughout the game, Phillips clapped while guarding on-ball to signify his defensive determination.

"Gimme that," he yelled in the second quarter after hanging in the air to get the block on Smith near the baseline.

"It was really good competition, playing against him," said Smith

Trinity's head coach said playing Crossroads was a challenge, referring to the Colts as a "championship team." At 18-5 (.780) on the year, the Colts are looking to do damage in the postseason.

At the start, the game was close; a back-and-forth first quarter provided exciting action, as Crossroads' zone rotated like a well-oiled machine, forcing the Lions to call a timeout. Ben Gladieux hesitated and drove strong to his right hand for the and-one. Then Broderick Jenkins received a divine bounce as a three-pointer ricocheted off the front of the rim and swished in for three. The first quarter ended 18-15.

But in the second, the Colts went on a blazing run, outscoring the Lions 21-5 to earn a huge lead at halftime. The Colts ran into their locker room jazzed after a big second quarter.

An errant pass on the perimeter gave way to a Gladieux breakaway jam, invigorating the small crowd. The limited attendance created a relaxed atmosphere; refs talking to fans during timeouts, the crowd noise hovered around a golf-tournament level, with the occasional surge on a big play.

In the second half, the Colts continued to feed their young prospect, running a play with Thomas Shaw undercutting Phillips to create room for another three-ball. The freshman came off the bench just two minutes into regulation.

After the first quarter, Crossroads Christian abandoned the full-court press and saw more success from their half-court zone defense.

"The first quarter we tried to run them, but in the second quarter we played more halfcourt, and actually accomplished what we wanted," said head coach and athletic director Scottie Richardson.

"[Phillips] is such a good player, once he gets rolling, he may not stop," said Richardson. "He's a spark, when he's talking and active defensively."

In the third quarter Phillips was feeling good, headed to the bench with his team up 25 points to start the final period.

While finding success in his early high school career, Phillips is still able to heed advice from his coach and older players — and despite his basketball maturity, still finds ways to highlight his youthfulness.

"Take one bus trip with Ely, and you'll realize he's still a freshman," said Richardson.

On Friday night, the Colts will rock their old throwback jerseys against the Mustangs, looking to earn their 19th win late in the season.

STATSBen Gladieux (Sr.) — 24 PTS, 10 REB, 4 STL, 2 BLK

Ely Phillips (Fr.) — 18 PTS (4-5 3FG), 3 REB

Broderick Jenkins (Sr.) — 18 PTS, 8 REB, 3 AST