Grace women win 25th, men avenge loss

Feb. 6—For the nationally-ranked Lady Crusaders, it was just another bump in the road on the way to what they hope will be a third state championship in a row. But for the Grace Christian men, it was a chance to settle a score from all the way back on Thanksgiving weekend.

On Saturday, Nov. 25, the Crusaders took on host Mount Zion Christian Academy in a game during the Mighty Warriors' annual Thanksgiving tournament, the Bull City Classic. Mount Zion won the game by 21 points, but the outcome wasn't really representative of the teams—the Crusaders had to play the game with leading scorer Ma'kyi Butler out due to injury.

On Friday night, Grace was back at Mount Zion for a regular-season game and this time Butler was with them. The Warriors held him to a dozen points, but the attention given to the 6'6" senior opened the floor for everyone else, and the Crusaders gutted out a 67-65 victory.

Earlier in the night, the Lady Crusaders subbed liberally throughout the evening and easily defeated the Mount Zion women 64-39, improving to 25-0 on the season.

However, the men's victory was one of their best of the season. While the Mighty Warriors are nothing like they were when Tracy McGrady and Amare Stoudemire put the school on the map at the turn of the century, they remain a solid program, one of the best in the Carolinas Athletic Association for Schools of Choice.

With Butler in the fight, the rematch was a very different affair. The Warriors got the game at their own pace rather than the up-tempo the Crusaders like, and held Grace to 10 points in the first quarter, which ended with the home team on top 14-10. However, Grace got going in the second and went to halftime on top 26-24.

The third quarter saw the pace pick up and Crusader freshman Nate Jones, who led everyone with 21 points, start to cause problems for the Warriors. Grace carried a seven-point lead into the fourth quarter. Mount Zion rallied in the fourth, but the Crusaders held on to win by a basket.

Jimmy Zimmerman matched Butler with 12 points. Grant Jacques added nine points, Caleb Ellis eight and Matt Foster three.

The Crusaders (17-11), winners of six in a row, will try to avenge another loss on Thursday night when they travel to Eastern Randolph.

Grace 64, Mount Zion 39

Everyone on the roster except for seniors Sarah Strong and Serenity McNair and junior Halisi Whitley, who all sat this one out, got to play in the Lady Crusaders' blowout of Mount Zion.

In a glimpse at how the team might look a year from now, junior Icyss Storm dominated the paint, scoring 23 points on 10-12 shooting and also grabbing 21 rebounds.

Miyah Campbell added 12 points for the Lady Crusaders. Reagan Lindholm had 10, Dazaria Smith nine, Isa Roman eight, and Hannah Stephney two.

The Lady Crusaders, ranked No. 19 in the nation by ESPN and No. 1 in North Carolina by MaxPreps, hosted Northwood on Monday night and will face Legacy Early College on Friday night in the regular-season finale.