ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF)–Put another Big Northern Conference championship on the wall for Rockford Lutheran. The Crusaders clinched their fourth straight conference crown Tuesday night by defeating in-city rival Rockford Christian 69-59.
Rockford Christian had defeated Rockford Lutheran in a non-conference game two weeks ago at Rockford Christian. This rematch was a conference game. It was winner take all with Lutheran sitting at 8-0 in conference play and Rockford Christian at 7-0 coming in.
Rockford Christian jumped out to a 10-4 lead behind sophomore guard Christian Cummings. The Crusaders stormed back in the second quarter behind some great defense to build an 11 point lead. At halftime the Crusaders led 37-28.
The third quarter was a tossup. With 1:08 to play in the quarter Cummings picked up his fifth foul while trying to take a charge on a Walt Hill Jr. drive down the lane. The Royal Lions didn’t buckle without Cummings. At least not at first. Kevion Cummings sank a three-pointer early in the fourth quarter to give the Royal Lions a 52-50 lead.
But seniors Blake Broege and Walt Hill Jr. delivered down the stretch for Rockford Lutheran finishing with 20 points and 25 points respectively. Another senior Kyng Hughes provided some good defense and rebounding.
“We just play hard every conference game. 41 in a row now. It means extra, a lot more my senior year,” said Broege after the win.
“The biggest difference, I mean, just playing defense,” said Hill Jr.. “Last time we played them in the fourth quarter we just got tired, and we weren’t playing defense, so that was the biggest difference in this game.”
Lutheran head coach Tom Guse was proud of his seniors. “That’s what you do with the seniors, you challenge them. You knew this was their last conference game of their life and they were going to leave it all on the floor, and the guys responded the way we expected.”
Rockford Lutheran finishes conference play. Overall they are 9-0. They still have a non-conference game remaining Thursday night against Normal University High.
Rockford Christian is now 27-2 overall and 7-1 in the BNC. The Royal Lions have one conference game left Thursday night at home against Stillman Valley.