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Saders Take Fourth in State

Scott Leber has reactions from the Lutheran Crusaders after finishing fourth in state.
Peoria, Ill.- It’s never easy putting four good quarters of basketball together on this big stage against a talented opponent. That was the Crusaders Achilles this weekend. It was the second quarter in particular in this game that did them in.

The Saders saw their ten point first quarter lead evaporate in a hurry in the second quarter. Their turnovers piled up, and their shots stopped falling. They were outscored 20-3.

“The second quarter we got away from the things we’ve done all year, and that was take care of the ball and get good shots,” says Tom Guse, Crusaders Head Coach.

“We just kind of, we beat ourselves. In a big stage the adrenalin is going and that press they were in is a good press. They tried to speed us up,” says Kendall Lawson, Crusaders senior guard.

“I think they started 6-5, 6-7 and 6-8, so that’s something we haven’t seen all season and just not the fact that they’re big, but they’re very athletic,” says Nate Wieting, Crusaders forward.

The Crusaders lived by the three point shot all season. They were the best team in the state in that category, but not in this game. They were only six of 26 and All-Stater Thomas Kopelman, who hit eight three-pointers here as a sophomore, was only three of 12 in this game.

“It was just one of those days when nothing was really falling. I could tell as soon as I released a lot of them that they weren’t going in, but obviously credit their defense. Their defense had great pressure,” says Thomas Kopelman.

So what will the Crusaders take away from this weekend?

“I’ll just remember all the memories I made with my teammates,” says Wieting.

“Memories of being down here, and being able to end our season on the last day. Not many people get to do that,” Kopelman says.

“I’m still proud of our guys. They’ve just made it such a special year,” says Guse.

Lawson and Kopelman are the two key seniors the Crusaders will lose from this team. But there will be plenty of talent returning to make the Crusaders a force in Northern Illinois basketball again next year.

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