Grace tops Maranatha 94-87, advances to Regional Finals
Lansing, MI – The last time the Grace Bible College Tigers played the Maranatha Baptist Bible College Crusaders, the game yielded regional implications. If the Tigers won the game, they would have entered the Midwest Regional Tournament as the #1 seed, but they ended up falling 83-76 to the Crusaders in Watertown, WI. In Friday night’s match-up between the two teams, the game yielded steeper implications: the winner would go on to advance to the Regional final for a chance to lock-in a bid to the 2014 NCCAA II National Tournament.
The Tigers knew entering into the game that they were going to have to make some adjustments, as big men Luke McKian and Brad Rosenzweig were both unable to dress due to ankle injuries they suffered in yesterday’s game. Freshman Jared Bradford, who leads the Tigers in scoring, also sat the bench to start the game as a result of nagging injuries. Junior Jake Blauwkamp was given the assignment to step out of his normal position and play down low with junior Cameron Cramer to begin the game.
The Maranatha Crusaders came out firing on all cylinders, en route to a 26-13 advantage at the midway point of the first half. Two minutes later they were able to hit the height of their first half lead, with the score at 37-21 with 8:00 remaining in the period. Less than two minutes later, Grace was able to cut the Crusader lead to seven, after a 9-0 run that was capped off by a three pointer from freshman Jared Bradford. Maranatha was able to regain their double digit lead with 2:00 to go in the first half, with the score at 50-39. Another quick run from the Tigers helped gain some momentum headed into the half with the score at 50-45, after a buzzer-beating coast to coast lay-in from senior Nick Mascarro.
In the first few minutes of the second half, Maranatha was able to yet again extend their lead to double digits. The Crusaders went on to keep a comfortable lead for the first 6:00 in the half, until junior Travis Rader was able to knock down two 3-pointers within a 45 second span to pull the Tigers within one point, 66-65. Two minutes later Grace was able to grab their first lead of the game on a pull up three point shot from the top of the key by Bradford. Grace was able to extend their lead to five with 9:00 remaining in the game after Mascarro dropped the ball off to sophomore Paul TenHarmsel for a high-flying dunk over a Maranatha defender. The Tiger momentum was halted immediately on the defensive end, where junior Jake Blauwkamp was fouled out of the game. Maranatha would go on to cut the Tiger lead to two with 5:00 remaining, 83-81. The Tigers hit a handful of free throws and played great defense for the next few minutes, resulting in an 89-83 lead with 1:30 remaining in the game. After Grace seemed to be pulling away, the Crusaders were able to score two consecutive baskets and stop the Tigers on the defensive end, cutting the Tiger lead to two at 89-87 with 50 seconds remaining. The Crusaders looked to pressure on defense without fouling at this point, and the Tiger guards were able to handle the pressure and take 30 seconds off the clock before Mascarro drove through the lane and made a beautiful pass to Rader, who was able to finish to put Grace up four with 20 seconds remaining. The Tigers were able to pick up a huge stop on defense on the next possession, capped by a huge rebound by Cramer. Grace was able to knock down their final free throws and end with a 94-87 victory.
“For the first time this season, everyone on the floor looked like they were refusing to lose,” commented Associate Head Coach Dan George.
Grace will take on cross-town rival Kuyper College in the Regional Finals tomorrow at 3:00 PM. The game will be available through live audio broadcast, here: GRACE VS. KUYPER.
Points- Bradford 22, TenHarmsel 17, Cameron Cramer 16
Rebounds- Cramer 10, Mascarro 5, Nick Van Loo 4
Assists- Bradford 5, Mascarro 4
Steals- Bradford 2, Cramer 2
Blocks- TenHarmsel 1