Crusaders Fall Short In Quest For District Title


Shane Sellers, Reporter

The 2018-19 varsity girls basketball team seemed to be in each game until the very end. Earlier this month, they came up just short. The Lady Crusaders had made it all the way to the district finals, and were nearly on their way to the state tournament had they not come across such a tall and athletic opponent, the Port Huron Northern Huskies.
Head Coach Bob Johnston, who has seen a thing or two on the basketball court over the years, was proud of the way his team performed this season, saying, “We only had seven losses all season. Five of those losses we lost by a total of ten points.”
The varsity squad was full of young talent this season. Out of the starting five in the lineup, three of them were freshman. Those players were Brooke Daniels ‘22, Olivia Chadwick ‘22, and Jekiah Mack ‘22. All three played a significant role on the court, but Daniels stood out among the freshman class.
If the name sounds familiar, it should. Her brother, Blake Daniels, was the starting quarterback and basketball player during his time at LCN. His younger sister Brooke followed in his path of athletic excellence. According to Coach Johnston, “Brooke led the team in everything. She was our best rebounder, scorer, and assist leader.”
At the end-of-the-season banquet, Johnston revealed to the team and parents that Daniels had won the team MVP. In her first year, Daniels averaged 16.4 points per game. That was more than five points greater than any other player on the team. Sam Stimmel ‘20, a small forward for the Crusaders, said, “She carried the team all year and won a ton of games for us.”
Overall, the team averaged 46.5 points per game. Not bad, considering in the beginning of the year the team was trying to find an offensive identity that was simple enough for the young team to learn. As the season progressed, the team was able to learn more plays and define roles on offense. Oftentimes when the team needed a big shot, Johnston would turn to senior shooting guard Lauren Peraino ‘19. She was the leading scorer off the Crusader bench, and provided a stellar backup to Daniels when she came out of the game for a quick breather.
Nothing was better than the game winning shot against Anchor Bay in the league title semifinals by Mack. Her shot, a half court heave before the buzzer sounded at the end of regulation, sent the Crusaders to the title game, where they barely lost to Lakeview by two points.
The team was able to compete all season long. Coach Johnston said, “One of the goals at the beginning of the year that the coaching staff had said was to compete for a league title, get in the MAC tourney finals, and we wanted to compete for a district title. We did all three.”
So while the final score of 38 to 50 didn’t go the Crusaders way against Port Huron Northern, keep in mind how young this team is. While the team lost key seniors like Peraino, Marissa Casper ‘19, Alex Lavey ‘19, and Saphire Connway ‘19, there is reason to believe this young core of freshman should bring hope for years to come.