Tigers take down cougars, advance to national championship tournament
Junior forward Cameron Cramer rises up and finishes with the left. Cramer recorded a double-double, with 26 points and 13 rebounds.
Lansing, MI – For the fifth time this season, the Grace Bible College Tigers took the floor to face the Kuyper College Cougars on Saturday afternoon. The teams split the first four match-ups 2-2, and the grudge match would have major implications: the winner would lock-in their bid to the 2014 National Championship Tournament in Circleville, Ohio.
The action did not take long to begin after the opening tip, with freshman Jared Bradford feeding junior Travis Rader in stride for a one-handed slam to take a 4-2 lead one minute into the game. Five minutes into the game, Grace held a slim advantage at 11-7. The Cougars were able to put together a 11-7 run of their own for the next 5:00, knotting the game at 18-18 at the midpoint of the first half. The Tigers were able to start knocking down a handful of long range shots for the next few minutes, resulting in a 37-25 lead with 4:30 left. The Tigers kept a double digit lead for the next four minutes, and Bradford was able to get to the rim and finish while drawing a foul to push the lead to 46-33 on the last Tiger possession in the half.
Kuyper was able to chip away at the Grace lead at the beginning stages of the second half, and thanks to three consecutive three-point baskets from freshman Ryan Evans, the Cougars were able to eventually cut the Tiger lead to eight with 14:00 remaining in the game. The next 5:00 saw a lot of back-and-forth action between the two high-powered offenses. The Tigers were able to extend their lead to 12 with back to back and-one baskets from junior Cameron Cramer, followed by Kuyper cutting the lead right back to six with 8:00 remaining. Grace stole their 12 point lead right back at the 6:00 mark, capped by a highlight save by Bradford on what looked to be a Tiger turnover out of bounds. On the save, Bradford directed the ball to junior Jake Blauwkamp, and Blauwkamp immediately zipped the ball to senior Nick Mascarro for the easy bucket. From this point on, the Tigers were able to slowly add-on to their lead and finish off the game with a 17 point victory, 85-68.
Cramer put on one of the best performances of his career on the big stage, scoring 26 points (17 in the second half) and pulling down 13 rebounds. Bradford added 14, while Mascarro and Rader added 11 to join Cramer in double figures. Junior Nick Van Loo stepped it up big off the bench, scoring 8 points on 4 of 4 shooting, while also adding 4 assists with 0 turnovers.
“I think this weekend our guys did a lot of growing up,” said assistant coach Brandon Herlein following the game. “We showed a lot of poise when we were down at times and when Kuyper would go on a run. I thought that everyone knew what their assignment was and went out and did it without question. We are very excited to ride this momentum into Nationals.”
Points: Cramer 26, Bradford 14, Mascarro 11, Rader 11
Rebounds: Cramer 13, Mascarro 6, Bradford 4, Paul TenHarmsel 4
Assists: Mascarro 6, Van Loo 4
Steals: TenHarmsel 4, Cramer 2
Blocks: Mascarro 2, Cramer 1, TenHarmsel 1
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