XENIA — The excuse was there, as obvious as the Legacy Christian Academy logo at center court. But Knights coach Brad Newsome and his team wasn’t having any of it.
Playing without their two leading scorers, No. 9-ranked Legacy Christian lost the game and a share of the Metro Buckeye Conference lead with Tuesday’s Jan. 9 55-42 loss to Troy Christian.
Visiting Troy Christian punctuated a solid first half with Connor Case’s buzzer beating 3-pointer from the top of the arc to give the Eagles a solid 36-16 lead at halftime.
Erik Uszynski, the Knights’ leading scorer with a 15.6 points-per-game scoring average, missed Tuesday’s contest due to a bout with the flu bug.
Keano Hammerstrom, LCA’s second leading scorer with 13.3 points per contest, was out with two sprained ankles.
Nobody in the LCA gym would’ve blamed Newsome for saying his Knights lost, because they were playing with their collective hands tied behind their back. But he didn’t.
“It was tough not being able to play without Erik and Keano, but we have enough talented guys that our expectation is to compete and potentially win the game,” Newsome said. “Whether that’s realistic or any of that, it doesn’t matter. That is our benchmark.
“It would’ve been nice to have them, but we still expected other guys to step up. (Freshman Jonathan) Riddle hit some nice shots tonight, and you saw other guys get in and play hard, too.”
Troy Christian would’ve had a height advantage with or without LCA’s big two. The Eagles’ James Anderson — all 6-foot-9 and 275 pounds of him — was dominant inside. He finished with a game-high 20 points. Troy Christian coach Ray Zawadzki says Anderson has three college offers to decide on already. Six-foot-one Cameron Strine also scored in double figures for the Eagles, finishing with 14 points, while 6-5 Jackson Kremer finished with seven.
With the win, the Eagles assume sole possession of first place in the Metro Buckeye Conference with an overall record of 10-2, 5-1 in the MBC. Legacy entered the game tied atop the conference standings. They’re now 9-3, 4-2 MBC with a make-up game set for 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 13 at Jefferson Township next on the schedule.
Troy Christian will host Middletown Christian at 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 12 for its next game.
Zawadzki addressed both teams at midcourt after the game. While he’ll gladly go home with a win, he appreciated the short-handed Knights’ effort.
“Of course I’d want them to be 100 percent. I’m all for kids. This game is made for kids to play. I don’t want anybody to be injured or sick for either team,” he said. “Ideally, every kid would be able to play, but occassionally you have to deal with some adversity. And I really thought Legacy competed very hard. They had a chance to pull the deficit to within 10 points (with 5:10 left to play) and they almost did that. It was very impressive.”
Knights senior guard Ashton Burke led LCA with 15 points scored. Juniors Brandon Martin and Josh Frueh each finished with seven points, while Riddle, Zach Thompson, Blake Carson, James Brads and Josh Parr combined for 13 points in the loss.
The determined LCA bunch outscored Troy Christian 26-19 in the second half. The two teams will meet each other again — hopefully with both teams at full strength — on Feb. 9 on Troy Christian’s floor.
Contact John Bombatch at 937-372-4444, Ext. 2123.