The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


January 18, 2014

Crusaders strike late to spoil OCC night

Manhattan Christian has become a nemesis for Ozark Christian in men’s basketball.

The visiting Crusaders had OCC coach Chris Lahm shaking his head on Friday night.

The Crusaders scored the last eight points in the game to stun the Ambassadors 85-79 in the Midwest Christian College Conference.

Said Lahm: “It’s a tough loss. They’ve had a lot of success recently at our facility. Anyway, it seems like it’s been that way. They’re well-coached and they’ve been together for some years.”

Manhattan (Kan.) Christian made it a sweep. It pulled away in the second half to claim the women’s game 68-47.

The men’s result left Manhattan 10-7 overall and 3-0 in the MCCC. OCC slipped to 8-8, 3-1. The Manhattan women improved to 13-3 overall and 3-0 in the MCCC and dropped the Ambassadors to 2-11, 1-2.

The ballclubs — they were meeting for the first time this season — have little time to celebrate or moan about missed opportunities. OCC entertains Barclay of Haviland (Kan.) at 1 p.m. today in a doubleheader. Manhattan is at Calvary Bible in Kansas City for a pair starting at 2 p.m.

 OCC’s Kendall Wingert delivered a three-point play to catch Manhattan at 77 with 1:56 left in the men’s game. Wingert then nailed two free throws after his steal for a 79-77 advantage.

The Crusaders swiftly responded. Lonnie Penner’s trey from out on top at 1:18 made it 80-79. A free throw by Bryce Birtell, who was fouled in a rebound scramble after an OCC miss, made it 81-79 at 58.3.

An OCC turnover led to Penner going to the line in the bonus situation at 35.8. He misfired but teammate Alex Hammack came up with the offensive rebound.

Sage Ruis followed with two charities at 28.2 and Jack Mitchell, who had 12 boards in the game, added a pair at 19.7.

“We made some good decisions (on offense) and toughened up on the defensive end,” Manhattan coach Shawn Condra said of the finish. “We played very well in the first half (in taking a 54-41 halftime lead).”

Added Lahm: “We got into way too much of a hurry when we needed good shots at the end. We executed well in rallying in the second half.”

Ruis scored 27 points and Penner had 23 for the Crusaders. Logan Myers tallied 15, Wingert 14 and Dawson Allmoslecher 12 for the Ambassadors.

The Manhattan women were ahead only 31-26 at the half.

Said Manhattan coach Larry Olson: “OCC controlled the tempo for the majority of the game. They played hard and they are vastly improved from last season. We did hold them to 24 percent shooting from the field for the game. We had a little more depth and experience.”

Said OCC coach Tab Hall: “We played a solid 33 minutes of basketball. We missed shots and turned the ball over too much to help Manhattan pull away.”

Libby White scored 17 points in only 15 minutes for the Crusaders.

Aspyn Schlitz scored 10 points and McKenna Thompson had 11 rebounds for OCC.

Thompson (5-7 freshman from Hume, Mo.), Becca Bowland (5-6 freshman, Pattonsburg, Mo.) and Whitney Matlack (5-7 freshman, Cedar Falls, Iowa) saw their first playing time at home for OCC.

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