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THE COUNTDOWN - #5
#5- Men’s Basketball Wins 7th Consecutive Conference Title
As streaks go this is one of the best. This past year the men’s basketball team won its seventh consecutive conference championship and second straight outright title. After an early season hiccup against an upstart Barclay College squad the Crusaders were able to rattle off nine straight conference wins to finish the regular season conference schedule at 9-1.
The nine game conference winning streak was highlighted by a road win at rival Ozark Christian College where the Crusaders found themselves down by double figures late in the second half. On the shoulders of Juniors Lonnie Penner (Whitewater, KS) and Jack Mitchell (Glendale, AZ) the team fought their way back to within three with only seconds remaining. After a missed three point shot and offensive rebound Sophomore Sage Ruis (Olathe, KS) was able to bury a fade away three pointer as time expired to force overtime. In OT the Crusaders took care of business and finished off the Ambassadors winning 89-85.
After the road win over Ozark the team rattled off three more conference victories including a big revenge win over Barclay College on the road. With momentum on their side and a half game lead in the conference standings the Crusaders welcomed their rivals from Joplin to the City Auditorium for a sold out game with the conference title on the line. The game went back and forth as Ozark owned a double figure lead at one point in the first half. MCC would fight back and close the gap to one at halftime. The Crusaders would go on to take a 50-48 lead early in the second half and even stretch their lead to 65-57. Ozark would battle back to cut the deficit to 72-70 when Penner and Josh Camacho (St. George, KS) went on their own 7-0 run to push the lead to 79-70. The raucous crowd enjoyed the final minutes of the game as the Ambassadors wouldn’t get any closer than 7 points. Penner finished with 24 points and 12 boards and Freshmen David Frost (Bentonville, AR) scored 15 points.
The victory would give the Crusaders the Midwest Christian College Conference title for the 7th year in a row. In 2013-14 the team will return almost their entire roster while adding key pieces with their recruiting class. Look for the Crusaders to make another run at a conference championship for the 8th year in a row.