A cold start in a chilly gym could not stop The Christian Academy in the quarterfinal round of the Tri-State Christian Conference boys basketball tournament Thursday.
Ethan Dutton hit both of his 3-point field goals to start the third quarter and help the fifth-seeded Crusaders rally for a 45-40 victory over fourth-seeded King’s Christian.
The win avenged a pair of losses to King’s in the regular season and sends TCA (8-16) back on the road Friday to take on top-seeded Gloucester Christian in the semifinals Friday afternoon at 4:30. The winner advances to Saturday’s championship game at Cairn University.
After scoring just two points in the opening quarter, TCA heated up but still trailed, 27-16, at the break. That’s where Dutton and the Crusaders defense, fueled by the return of Britt Haseltine, turned the game in TCA’s favor.
Dutton scored nine of his team-high 15 points in the third quarter and 11 in the second half to pull out the game in the fourth quarter. Davier Daniels backed Dutton with 10 points. TCA’s defense had a lot to do with the comeback. The Crusaders limited King’s to 13 points in the second half.
Haseltine, playing for the first time since breaking his collar bone in the season opener, paced the defense with eight steals. He also chipped in with five points.
“He gave us a spark,’ TCA coach Jon Thompson said. “He also gave us a dimension we’ve been lacking.’